Focus on local networks


Infrastructure development is at the heart of progress in South Africa. But how much have we achieved 20 years into democracy? 

Infrastructure development is one topic that hardly ever goes without mention in local government discourse. Being one of South Africa’s most vital necessities for growth, over thepast 20 years a lot of focus has been placed on the topic.

Being of paramount importance for the growth of other sectors in the economy, infrastructure development has come to encompass a broad range of subsections, focusing on areas spanning from transport to information technology. Service takes a look at what some of our municipalities have accomplished over the past 20 years of democracy.

Miller Matola, Brand SA CEO, recently released a report that touched on various aspects of infrastructure development in the City of Johannesburg over the past 20 years. According to Matola, the City of Johannesburg is demonstrating an innovative and pioneering spirit today which, as a result, is seeing it leading the country in the issuance of municipal bonds and is using the funds generated to improve the quality of infrastructure and service delivery to its residents.

“The City’s investment in strategic infrastructure such as roads, the rehabilitation of public spaces, such as the Orlando West Park, Bara transport interchange, Rea Vaya BRT and Orlando Stadium have changed the face of Soweto. Public sector-led investments have proven to be catalysts for private sector investments such as Maponya Mall, Orlando Ekhaya and the Jabulani and Bolani Developments.”Matola further mentions that the City is focused on transforming itself into a smart city and this year will see the completion of the rollout of its new broadband network. “Wi-Fi has now gone live in the Orlando Communal Hall and at the following nine Rea Vaya stations: Orlando Stadium and Police Station, Soccer City, Noordgesig, Joburg Theatre, Park Station, Art Gallery, Carlton Centre and Fashion Square.

The intention is to roll out 1 000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city before the end of the mayoral term,” as per Matola.The new Rea Vaya infrastructure is according to Matola a big improvement with regards to the city’s transport needs. “Exciting new Rea Vaya infrastructure is to be followed by investment in schools, clinics and a range of housing options.”
This will not only be 16 kilometres of new BRT trunk infrastructure along Louis Botha and Katherine Streets and 10 new stations, but will include: a state-of-the-art and underground public transport interchange at the site of the Wynberg Bridge; 31km of public environment upgrade in Alexandra as part of the Complete Streets initiative; 5.2km of walking and cycling lanes including a bridge over the M1; a second bridge for dedicated Rea Vaya bus lanes in Marlboro; a new transport system in the Sandton CBD providing seamless integration between the Gautrain station, walking, cycling, Rea Vaya, mini bus taxis and other bus services; and a new bus depot in the inner city and Alexandra,” Matola says.

Taking the environment into consideration, the launch of green bus initiatives is seeing the introduction of Metrobuses powered by dual fuel (compressed natural gas and diesel). “These green buses emit 90% less carbon – great news for the environment. These initiatives are all part of the City’s efforts to conduct a green revolution.”
Ekurhuleni also boasts healthy growth in infrastructure development and is often referred to as ‘Africa’s workshop’. According to the State of the Metro report, the network of roads, airports, rail lines, telephones, electricity grids and telecommunications rivals that of many cities in developed Europe and America and that this infrastructure supports a well-established industrial and commercial complex.

“The Maputo Corridor Development, South Africa’s most advanced spatial development initiative, connects Ekurhuleni with the capital of Mozambique, southern Africa’s largest Indian Ocean port. It is also linked directly via rail, road and air to Durban – South Africa’s biggest and busiest port,” according to the report.
Ekurhuleni is also home to one of Africa’s busiest airport districts. According to the metro, OR Tambo International Airport has more than 14 million passengers passing through its doors annually, and more than 18 000 people are employed by various companies operating from there.
“Roads, railways and airports service Ekurhuleni well, as it has a well-developed network of infrastructure as well as strong telecommunications infrastructure and powerful electricity grids. A modern road network system reaches every part of the municipality and connects all the major towns, offering conveniences and a seamless travel experience. The N3 from Johannesburg to Durban, the N12 from Johannesburg to Witbank and the R21 highway, which joins OR Tambo International Airport to the rest of the province, all meet at Gillooly’s Interchange – right in the heart of Ekurhuleni.”

Another metro which is expanding on the infrastructure front is Buffalo City. In 2013 the metro’s council approved a budget of R5.2 billion with close to a billion rands going towards an infrastructure rollout programme.
These infrastructure developments will address a number of topics according to Infrastructure Barometer 2012. The provision of infrastructure needs to consider:
population growth and demographic changes;
economic growth;
productivity and innovation;
settlement patterns and the strong trend towards urbanisation;
the movement of goods and services;
housing living affordability and integrated infrastructure and related services;
climate change, the environment and the sustainable use of existing resources;
asset management and sustainable infrastructure and
government capability to deliver infrastructure in an integrated and holistic manner.

According to Buffalo City’s State of the Metro report, the 2013 financial year surpassed its previous expenditure records and attained a 70% capital spend. “For this financial year, we are on course to spend above 90% of our capital budget delivering basic infrastructure and services to our people. I therefore stand before you all to give an account of our ‘good story’ amid all trials and tribulations. We are committed to the social contract between ourselves as the political leaders and the people of Buffalo City, and we will not falter.”
One area in particular that the metro acknowledges to be in need of development is its roads and storm water facilities. According to the report, the majority of roads in the traditional built environment of the metro is more than 30 years old and that the urban settlements located in the townships have road network backlogs of more than a billion rand.

“Within limited resources, our roads and storm water programme for this financial year has significantly improved. More than 200km of gravel roads have been upgraded, rehabilitated and surfaced, benefiting many wards in both urban and rural areas. Contractors have been appointed to upgrade 30km of gravel roads in Mdantsane to surface roads. The total value of the project is R200 million. It is undoubted that this project will provide the much-needed public infrastructure to trigger economic and social growth in this historic and iconic township in South Africa,” according to the report.
The upgrading of the major thoroughfare of Fleet Street to the tune of R88 million is currently under way. “Delays have been experienced in this project, which have undoubted impacted on the residents and businesses operating in Quigney. To this end, the administration is monitoring and reporting on the project regularly to ensure recovery plans are adhered to.

“The Gonubie Main Road, another significant infrastructure project, is finally under construction with R40 million being spent in the current financial year. This project will proceed for the next three years with an additional investment of R90 million. Sanral complemented the Metro’s efforts by ensuring the upgrade of the N2 off ramp into Gonubie. In addition, plans are under way to implement the link road between Beacon Bay and Gonubie, with an initial investment of R15 million. An additional R23 million has been budgeted to complete the project,” according to the State of the Metro report.The City of Cape Town is one of our bigger metros experiencing rapid population growth. The challenge that urbanisation and the expansion of its economic sector faces is the need for an accompanying infrastructure that is able to sustainably accommodate these changes. Looking at the most recent State of the Metro report, a lot of emphasis is being placed on urbanisation and how this ties in with the need for infrastructure development.

“As the world builds more urban fabric and adds more people to existing places, the way in which cities are structured will shape the health and productivity of society and urban residents. Cities’ design provides the frame that either facilitates or detracts from the ease with which urban dwellers interact with one another. It shapes how (and with whom) people build social networks, as well as the ease or difficulty with which businesses and the public sector reach consumers with their products and services,” according to the report.

It further mentions that urban infrastructure is generally regarded as comprising three overlapping ‘systems’ which, together, illustrate the complexity of urban issues and systems, and the complexity in responding to them. These systems include:
Social infrastructure: Assets that support the provision of public services. Examples include social housing, health facilities, educational establishments and green infrastructure.
Economic infrastructure: Including projects that generate economic growth and enable society to function, such as power plants, transport facilities (air, sea and land), utilities (water, gas and electricity), flood defences, waste management and telecommunications networks.
Soft infrastructure: The public institutions required to maintain society. Examples include government buildings and laws, rules and systems that are created to uphold law and order, improve educational attainment and address public health and safety issues.

To successfully address infrastructure, the need for financial assistance can’t be overlooked. For this reason, the City of Cape Town recently signed a R2.4-billion loan credit facility agreement with a French Development Bank, which will assist in financing infrastructure projects identified in the Integrated Development Plan for the next five years. In 2013, the City had a capital budget of R6 billion rand and the 2012 financial year saw a capital expenditure of R4.14 billion, comprising 91.4% of its previous capital budget.
Infrastructure projects that are being looked at are the expansion of the MyCiTi bus services to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha as well as a range of capital project. Two areas in particular that the City is placing emphasis on in terms of development is its social and economic infrastructure.

The State of the Metro report indicates that the city grew by 40% in developed-land area between 1985 and 2005. More recently, it has been developing at an average rate of 1 232 hectares per year, compared to the development rate of 701ha per year over the period 1977–1988.
Cape Town made clear its intention to continue to support inclusive development through targeted infrastructure investment from 2012 to 2017, which is the period of the current IDP. Over the five-year period, as for social infrastructure, the City will be investing in backyarder service programmes by extending municipal services to backyarder communities in Cape Town and in upgrading services in informal settlements.
As for economic infrastructure, the City will invest in:

  • landfill space and other strategic infrastructure to support waste management;
  • additional funding for expansion of Cape Town International Convention Centre;
  • broadband infrastructure projects for the Cape metro-area network;
  • rehabilitation and reconstruction of metro roads;
  • the extension of the MyCiTi service as part of Cape Town’s integrated rapid transit (IRT) system;
  • upgrades to, and refurbishment of, electricity services;
  • infrastructure programmes for bulk water resources; and
  • wastewater capacity upgrades at Zandvliet, Bellville and Potsdam.

On the topic of social infrastructure, the City will be paying special attention to access to green and recreational spaces under the theme of social infrastructure for social inclusion.According to the State of the Metro report, one of the City’s challenges is to transform its spatial and social legacy into a more integrated compact city, with mixed-use zoning and recreational areas that bring residents closer to work and offer opportunities to break down social barriers.
“UN-HABITAT121 survey experts report that across all developing regions, the least developed components of urban infrastructure relate to recreation, sanitation and urban transport, while the most developed is telecommunications. All of this has important implications for urban prosperity. For instance, the low priority given to recreational infrastructure implies that access to public spaces in many cities is limited.

“UN-HABITAT reports that cities that value the notion of the public – thereby providing green areas, parks, recreational facilities and public open spaces – demonstrate a commitment to improved quality of life, and those that enhance and sustain the use of public space experience enhanced community cohesion, civic identity and quality of life,” as per the report.Assisting the City in this endeavour, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed standards and guidelines for planning and rolling out social facilities and recreational space in metropolitan areas – drawing on the practices and experiences of the municipalities of Cape Town and eThekwini.
The State of the Metro report further mentions that contrary to international best practices, Cape Town does not have a single combined indicator by which to benchmark access to all green space within its municipal boundaries – including district and neighbourhood parks, conservation areas, sports fields and Table Mountain National Park. Rather, access indicators are expressed separately for different categories of green and other leisure spaces.

Using 2007 population figures, the CSIR benchmarking study calculated access to sports fields and district and community parks in Cape Town as follows:
Just over 98% of Cape Town’s population are within 5km of sports fields with capacity, excluding municipal facilities leased to private operators.
Using the supply benchmark of 0.2ha of district park for 1 000 people served and within 20 minutes driving distance, 67% of Cape Town residents were unserved by the City’s 11 district parks (comprising 245 hectares).
Using the supply benchmark of 0.4ha of community park for 1 000 capacity, within 20 minutes walking distance, 54% of Cape Town residents were unserved by the City’s 3 133 community parks (comprising 1 711 hectares). These residents would either have to travel further to access a community park or deal with 'overcrowded' facilities.
According to the report, the projections for 2016 – assuming 2007 supply levels of these social facilities in the planning districts – suggested that residents’ access to green and leisure spaces would deteriorate: Altogether 70% of Cape Town residents would become unserved by the available district parks, and 58% of residents would become unserved by the available community parks.

Access to facilities
“The CSIR benchmarking study also indicated that access to parks differed across planning districts in 2007, and parks have been located in areas away from the highest population demand: 23.38% in Mitchells Plain. As the experiences from other developed and middle-income countries seem to suggest, the more dense urban development becomes, the more important easy access across the city to public parks, waterfronts and other ‘green’ areas for recreational and productive purposes becomes.
“A more dense and liveable Cape Town would require ongoing monitoring – and response – to ensure Cape Town responds positively to the standards and guidelines for access to parks, as well as to monitor and maintain the approved standards for access to green space per capita,” according to the report.
Despite the various challenges that our municipalities face in terms of infrastructure development, the facts and figures from our metros indicate that infrastructure development has indeed taken on a central role in local government enterprise and endeavours – a positive indicator for a growth-driven economy.

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Issue 68