Problems and by-law enforcement in Region F were the focus of a tour of the inner city by officials and ward councillors.
A GENUINE partnership between the City and foreign nationals should be cultivated so that if there are any issues between the two parties, a solution can be brokered easily.
MMC Ruby Mathang on a tour of Region FMMC Ruby Mathang on a tour of Region FThese were the words of Ruby Mathang, the member of the mayoral committee for development planning, who spoke during a tour of Region F on 29 February. A number of City by-laws in Cyrildene, where Chinese shops have sprouted, and Mayfair, a place mostly inhabited by Somali nationals owning a plethora of shops, were being flouted.
Mathang, who was accompanied by councillors and officials from his department, said there was no way that the migration of people into the city was going to be reversed; however, it should be managed better. “The challenge for us should be really to embrace the diversity. We should get into those places first because if they do first and they move at their own speed we will have to catch up with them,” he said.
In Cyrildene along Derrick Avenue, a place referred to as New Chinatown, Mathang was shocked to discover businesses operating in the basement of a building. They included what looked a mini hotel, where a parking lot had been divided into little cubicles acting as rooms. There was no electricity or running water.
In Mayfair, especially along Eighth Avenue, street traders encroach on pavements and illegal parking is rife. The area is zoned as residential, but it has been turned it into a commercial space, with various shops operating from houses on either side of the street.
A former hijacked building 250 Smit Street is undergoing renovationsTwo buildings on Smit Street are undergoing renovationsThe tour began early in day in the inner city, at 250 Smit Street, a building on the corner of Smit and Edith Cavell streets. It was recently returned to its owners after it was hijacked by unknown people. Two other buildings in the vicinity had a similar fate.
The three buildings are being renovated. Cameras have been installed on each floor in each building to guard against any criminal activity.
The tour then proceeded to Time Square, on Raleigh Street in Yeoville. It is a triple storey building where several restaurants, bars, hair salons and electronics businesses operate. The delegation discovered that some businesses had no operating licences and flouted several health by-laws.
Ward 66 councillor Carlos da Rocha, whose ward is in Yeoville, said that his concern was in case of emergencies. It would be difficult for emergency management services to get there. Fire could also spread easily in the backrooms.
From Yeoville, the tour headed to Cyrildene and then Cleveland, where officials visited a hijacked double storey building which was in a bad condition. It was apparent from a distance already that it was not taken care of –the paint is peeling, the drains take stinking water to the streets and inside the building itself there is a disturbing smell.
The officials then drove through Malvern and on to Mayfair. Summing up the day, Mathang said: “We have gone through a number of areas and from these areas I’m sure there are one or two areas that we think we need to follow up, others are in the pipeline while others might be completely new.”
The City is forging a relationship with foreign-owned businessesThe City is forging a relationship with foreign-owned businessesIn each ward that was visited, the councillors were given a chance to point out dangerous areas that needed to be attended to urgently. They were also able to inform Mathang of problems in their wards, such as people who refused to be evicted from hijacked buildings and hawkers who traded illegally.
Officials from the department also suggested working solutions to the problems that were observed. One noted that there was a lack of communication between the City and the ward councillors. The City should be explicit in explaining things, he said.
Among many solutions that were proposed, was that hijacked buildings should be handed back to the City to manage through Johannesburg Social Housing Company. It was also suggested that once management was in place, everything else, such as overcrowding, could be solved easily.
“We must be proactive as the City and think out of the box,” another official said. Mathang added that all areas visited needed to be followed up innovatively and that issues raised by councillors would be addressed.
According to Lucky Sindane, the stakeholder liaison officer in the development planning department, the tour was also aimed at interacting with ward councillors and helping them to resolve problems and escalate matters for the attention of sister departments.
He also spoke of early monitoring systems of potential problem areas and giving direction on possible solutions and interventions necessary in all the problems identified.
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