With a definite plan in mind that includes service delivery and jobs, Region A is focusing on improving conditions for its many informal settlements.
THERE are noteworthy developments in Region A, Joburg’s largest industrial and commercial hub, which positions service delivery at the forefront of its work, particularly when it comes to upgrading remote, destitute settlements on its east and western edges.
Thembani Masilo, Region A directorThembani Masilo, Region A director“The importance of effective service delivery cannot be over-emphasized,” says Thembani Masilo, the regional director. However, she admits that appropriate services remain a “distant vision for many people, in particular the marginalised”.
Masilo says the region is in touch with its people and always intervenes to improve services, including roads, water, sanitation, electricity and environmental management. She believes the sustainability of these would influence behavioural change, positive lifestyles, and “longevity in our community”.
The entire region is managed using the City’s principles of urban management, which encourage cleanliness, sound environmental practices, by-law enforcement and reducing urban decay.
“Yearly we refine the Region A Urban Management Plan (RUMP) based on lessons learned in the past. Though there are a myriad of challenges our objective remains a steadfast commitment to improving service delivery,” she explains.
Masilo says the strategies of the RUMP are mirrored on the City’s Integrated Development Plan, Spatial Development Framework and Regional Spatial Development Framework. The RUMP provides an overarching analysis of and strategy for urban management within the municipality. All seven regions have their own RUMP, which aligns them with citywide policies and service delivery initiatives and priorities.
There is a large concentration of industries in Region A There is a large concentration of industries in Region AThere are significant successes in the region – houses have been built for most of the poor, who have been given sanitation and adequate roads and other infrastructure, Masilo says. But the region’s successes cannot be isolated from the contribution of third parties; they are “highly dependent on mutual co-operation and concerted efforts”.
“Furthermore, approachable leadership is also critical for instilling the necessary culture for achievers to yield desired community outcomes.”
Significant progress has been made to identify service delivery breakdowns through monitoring complaints, logging calls and follow-ups. “Co-ordination efforts through workshops between the region, core departments and [municipal-owned entities] are testimony of the positive steps taken to provide quality service delivery.”
Region A is composed of people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. It is growing rapidly, through urbanisation and in-migration, and Masilo says the minimal resources allocated to the region “produce new and significant challenges on an ongoing basis”.
The region borders Centurion in the north and Mogale City in the west. On the east, is the township of Tembisa and its south edges are adjacent to Alexandra, Sandton, Randburg and Roodepoort.
It has a motley assortment of agricultural smallholdings, light industrial activities, residential settlements of different styles and appearances, business and commercial areas and sizable informal settlements.
More than 338 537 residents, most of whom are concentrated in Midrand, call it home. Its western part is not heavily populated, though some 56 000 people live in the township of Diepsloot alone, where unemployment levels are over 50 percent and more than 70 percent of residents live below the poverty line.
House construction in DiepslootHouse construction in DiepslootIn Midrand's low income settlements, approximately 70 percent of residents earn less than R2 500 a month, while 34 percent earn no income at all. The City’s economic development plan estimates unemployment levels in the entire region to be around 39 percent.
Masilo concedes that power outages are a common problem in the Midrand area, and water and sewer challenges have led to service delivery protests in Diepsloot and Rabie Ridge. Littering is a big challenge as there are no landfills in the area, leading people to illegally dump waste, ubiquitously.
“Due to the massive scale of residential and commercial development towards the north from central Johannesburg, the region is experiencing serious infrastructure challenges,” Masilo says.
Although most of these challenges are conspicuous, some are latent, because there is much more focus on its industrial component than on its lower income bracket residential settlements. Masilo says this year’s focus is on priority areas like Ivory Park, the Midrand CBD, Fourways, Diepsloot and Kya Sands industrial and informal settlements.
In the near future, the region aims to position itself as Joburg’s information and technology hub, where thousands of jobs in the sector will be created and centralised. “Our staff has worked tirelessly to balance the dimensions of efficient service delivery with the increasing population growth, changing spatial patterns and finite resource,” she adds.
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