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A new department at City Parks works with outside groups to keep all open spaces in Joburg clean and green, and well maintained. Trees are pruned, bushes thinned out and grass cut back.
NOT all open space in Joburg is owned by the City; this means not all open space is the responsibility of City Parks.

 

Not all open spaces fall under City ParksNot all open spaces fall under City ParksHowever, the utility is always the first port of call if there are any maintenance issues, such as overgrown vegetation.
 

To deal with these concerns, and to stop valuable resources being diverted from its own maintenance programme, City Parks established a cost recovery and new business development department, which has gone a long way in helping other entities that own public open spaces in Joburg.

It arose out of a previously existing department commonly known as external services, and functioned first under the control of operations and then the marketing department.

“This department’s core focus was extending the greening mandate of City Parks to the rest of the City and its departments in an effort to minimise operational deficiencies,” said the head of the new department, Leah Mabusela.

“It is the norm for the general public to assume that all overgrown grass is the responsibility of City Parks,” she said. As this was not always the case, the department was instated to liaise with City departments such as City Power and the Johannesburg Roads Agency.

It was soon found that it was not only City-run entities that were affecting City Parks’ image and operations. “[We] were constantly being inundated with requests and petitions to service unfunded open stands for companies such as Eskom, Telkom, Metrorail, Spoornet and the Department of Roads and Transport.

“Every time City Parks serviced these areas, some of its portfolio such as service delivery in parks maintenance and cemeteries was negatively affected.”

 


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External services
It became necessary to expand the old department to deal with these eventualities, which was when the new business development branch was born. The entity did so by creating three sub-units: external services, facilities hire and administration, and sponsorship and corporate funding.

External services performs in much the same way as it did prior to the creation of the new department. There are key account managers who look after various municipal-owned entities and the regions, and senior managers who conclude the service level agreements.

These agreements are drawn from the service delivery agreement that City Parks and the City have with one another and include grass cutting, landscaping, tree maintenance and decoration.

 

Facilities hire and administration is reponsible for processing bookings of events at City parksThe facilities hire and administration section is reponsible for processing bookings of events at City parksFacilities hire and administration, as the name suggests, is responsible for processing all bookings of events and ensuring this runs smoothly. Sponsorship and corporate funding is the section in charge of securing corporate funding, implementing projects and seeking partners to contribute to the City’s tree campaign.

 


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Maintenance
The new business development department follows a two-pronged approach to maintain open spaces.

In the case of stands owned by private individuals or parastatals, Johannesburg’s environmental health department traces the owner and issues a notice to clean the property within a certain time frame. Should this approach fail, environmental health and the business development department liaise and the latter provides a quote on the cost of cleaning the site.

This is attached to the second notice given to the owner. If the second step fails to yield results, the City Parks department cleans the property and recovers payment through the owner’s bills.

The new department will engage with organisations such as Eskom, Telkom and the Department of Roads and Transport, if City Parks receives complaints about a lack of maintenance. It will service the unkempt spaces for a fee.

These companies usually have their own contractors to clear overgrown vegetation, but problems arise around their maintenance schedules. “Their standards are not the same as those of the City, resulting in an increase in the number of complaints that land up at the City Parks call centre.

“Their maintenance frequency is between one to three times a year and not the desired monthly maintenance.”

Overgrown vegetation can cause various problems if left unchecked. These include: power outages if trees grow on to electrical lines; security issues such as criminals hiding behind foliage or using untended trees to gain access to properties; and accidents at intersections as long grass blocks visibility.

City Parks officially launched the new business development division on 19 January. “Given that the City intends to remain clean, safe and green, it only makes sense to have the City departments and other organisations working together through the new business development department to achieve common goals.
 

 

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