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​THE new acting head of the Alexandra Renewal Project, Neels Letter, has been involved with the programme since it began in 2001.
NEELS Letter has been appointed acting director of the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

ARP acting director Neels LetterARP acting director Neels LetterLetter, a town and regional planner who has been the ARP’s deputy director for many years, has been involved in the project since its inception in 2001. He replaces Job Sithole, who was suspended last week on full pay pending a disciplinary enquiry.

“I am still very passionate about the ARP. I will serve to the best of my abilities,” he says of the announcement.

Letter has been responsible for the implementation of numerous projects, including housing projects such as Extensions 7, 9 and 10, Bothlabela Rental Housing, parks and open space development and upgrading of the cemeteries in Alexandra. He is also responsible for all town planning work related to the ARP, including the compilation of urban design frameworks for old Alexandra and Linbro Park, where new housing for Alex residents is to be built.

“Neels Letter understands the programme very well and we trust that he will be more than capable of taking care of the ARP in the absence of Sithole. He is passionate about Alexandra and the interests of the people who call Alexandra home,” said Ruby Mathang, the member of the mayoral committee for development planning and urban management.

“We would like to assure the community of Alexandra that the changes in the ARP will not affect development,” he added. Mathang said the City was committed to ensuring service delivery and development in Alexandra.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau said in his state of the city address last week that in 2012, the year that Alex turns 100 years old, the City’s approach to the ARP “must be to the benefit and integration of the surrounding areas and the ability for people to prosper”.

The ARP was conceived as one of eight urban nodes, launched in 2001, as part of the government’s Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programme.



Significant progress
Progress in improving the lives of Alexandra residents has been significant. Since 2001, the ARP has delivered 14 500 housing units of mixed tenure in the Greater Alexandra area, as well as in Diepsloot and Bram Fischerville, where some Alex residents were relocated. In addition, three hostels have been remodelled to accommodate families.

Housing has extended over the Jukskei River, creating the Far East Bank, where most of the new housing has gone up. Land in the neighbouring suburbs of Modderfontein, Linbro Park, Frankenwald and Waterval Estate has been secured for more housing.

The two Alexandra cemeteries have been upgraded, an air quality monitoring station has been built, and a waste recycling facility is up and running.

The creation of parks and open spaces along the Jukskei River has improved the quality of life of Alexandrans. Some 7 500 households have been moved from river banks to new housing and around 37 hectares of land has been developed as parks. All roads in Alex have been tarred, and several have been widened.

Alex’s four clinics have been refurbished. A hospice is planned for the Far East Bank, and a mental health clinic is under construction.

Sport and recreational facilities have been improved and upgraded at No 3 Square, Altrek Sports Precinct and Alexandra Stadium. This includes an all-weather athletics track. A youth precinct has been created, with a skateboard track, basketball courts and a small stadium.

In 2001, it was found that the electrical network was unstable and dangerous because of the thousands of illegal connections. An electrical master plan was developed, which resulted in the stabilisation of the overall network through the upgrading of bulk infrastructure. This meant that 33 000 households received new connections from a new overhead electricity network. A further 37 000 households still need to be connected.

Water supply in Alexandra has always been erratic. Large areas had very low water pressure with no spare capacity for new housing projects. A new water reservoir was constructed in neighbouring Linbro Park, with a supply pipe to Alexandra. As a result water supply and pressure is now stable and reliable.


The initial seven-year budget of R1,3-billion was spent by 2005, three years before the project deadline of 2008. The deadline was extended to 2011, and has been extended again to 2014. Over the past 10 years, R1,9-billion has been spent.

“Given the timeframes associated with the recent extension of the project, it is imperative that development takes place consistently with no interruptions,” said Mathang.

In 2009, the ARP’s efforts to improve the lives of the people of Alexandra were recognised when the project was given a Scroll of Honour award at the UN Habitat Awards.


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