Edition: September / November 2017
EXPERT OPINION

Better lives for all

It’s official that Gauteng’s post-apartheid cities are on their way.

The Gauteng province, as the largest economic hub of the country, attracts people from various walks of life who seek better opportunities or want to improve their skills either in the workplace or academically. This has led to an increased demand for a place to stay for those who come from outside the province and the growing population of residents.

As part of dealing with this challenge, the Gauteng Provincial Government initiated the Mega Human Settlements Projects in all the five corridors of the province. These Mega Projects are about building cities that encompass all the needs of residents who reside in them.

This paradigm shift in the provision of human settlements will direct the province towards a radical housing delivery.It will drastically change the current model which had some loopholes as the output on housing delivery was less than needed.

Also, sporadic houses were sometimes at the periphery of cities and away from economic opportunities. The intended cities will yield no fewer than 10 000 units per project either in an existing
development cluster or in a new nodal development.

The Mega Projects will consist of mixed housing typologies to accommodate all the residents. This typologies include fully bonded houses for those who can afford, rental stock, social housing, semi bonded houses through the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) and fully subsidised houses better known as RDPs/low cost housing.

This Cities will also have social amenities such as clinics, schools, library, for the residents to utilise. They will also have light industries in which the residents can get employment opportunities. Residents of the new cities will also be able to tap in opportunities that already exist in those areas.

The new cities will reinforce the key principles and considerations of spatial reconfiguration, township economy revitalisation and massive infrastructure investment as a means of transforming settlements and productive cities that are inclusive, sustainable and built on principles of good governance. They will also promote social, racial, economic and cultural integration.

These new cities will also require government to invest in more hospitals, smart schools and improvement of public transport, road (including new freeways) and other critical infrastructure. The province has planned for eight hospitals to be built within the next two years. Twenty schools will also be built within the same period.

Although funding has been made available for most of these projects, in some cases more funding is still required particularly for bulk services and we call upon the private sector to partner with us. This strategic perspective is a game changer in the delivery of integrated human settlements since new approach will ensure that that socio-economic opportunities are within walking distance with access to clinics, schools, libraries and recreational facilities prioritised to the benefit of residents.

There are currently 31 mega human settlements projects that are undergoing approval processes. Some of them have already attained all necessary approvals. Whilst government is making funding available for these projects, we call upon the private sector to partner with us.

These Cities will be built in across the five development corridors in all our municipalities, namely, the Central Corridor anchored by the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) as a financial and ICT hub of our economy; the Northern Corridor anchored by the City of Tshwane (CoT) is the automotive industry hub and capital city of our country; the Eastern Corridor of City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) is the manufacturing hub and an aerotropolis centre of the province; the Southern Corridor anchored by Sedibeng (Vaal) area which is the home of the steel industry and a tourist attraction, particularly with huge opportunities around the Vaal river and the Western Corridor which is anchored by the West Rand and is the home of the mining industry, agro-processing and a tourist attraction anchored around the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind.

We are creating these cities with the understanding that decent housing is a human right that needs to be satisfied as this contributes to efforts to restore the dignity of our people. We can therefore ill-afford not to provide, within government means, shelter for those who cannot afford to provide for themselves.

The implementation of this grand plan is aligned to the NDP – Vision 2030 with the roll out of mega projects informed by this approach.

It is therefore imperative that we not only maintain this standard but should raise the bar. Informed by the Gauteng Provincial Government’s strategy of Transformation, Modernisation and Reindustrialisation, referred to as TMR and adopted in 2014, we are developing integrated human settlements (mega cities) across our five development corridors in our on-going efforts to eradicate the housing backlog.

The TMR strategy has created various opportunities for the provincial government, the private sector and Gauteng citizens to enter into meaningful and lasting relationships to build a global City Region that is inclusive and prosperous and this will allow for government to seize the moment to realise our collective goal of creating a better life for all our people.

Aligned to the TMR strategy is a revolutionary concept of building Mega Cities. The implementation of mega human settlements projects is being executed through a partnership between all spheres of government – local, provincial and national.

The provincial government is also talking to national government and municipalities to avail land in their ownership to make the creation of this post-apartheid cities a reality. We are also talking to private landowners to negotiate for the purchase of their land. Some of the developers have already acquired land that is needed for development of mega projects.