After considering more than 15 submissions, Deloitte has awarded the tender to develop its sizeable purpose-developed offices in Gauteng to Atterbury. Atterbury is developing the new Deloitte Gauteng office on behalf of a 50/50 joint venture between co-owners Atterbury and JSE-listed real estate capital growth fund Attacq Limited.
Deloitte’s new premises will be developed in Waterfall in Midrand. The total estimated development cost is in excess of R1bn.
Mike Jarvis, chief operating officer of Deloitte Africa, says: “The consolidation of our Johannesburg and Pretoria offices into one Gauteng office in Waterfall City promises to be an exciting journey. We are quickly outgrowing both existing office spaces and are now in a position to bring together approximately 3,700 of our people into one, new, custom-designed building in what is clearly an attractive corporate destination. Deloitte is constantly looking for ways in which our people can make a meaningful impact to our clients, talent and communities. This move will help us do exactly that by gearing our operations to attract the best talent and serve our expanding market.”
Silver LEED Green Rating
The premises will comprise 42,500m2 of quality workspace, which will consolidate Deloitte’s current Woodmead and Pretoria offices in a single central location. The building has space capacity for close to 5,000 people.
The office premises will consist of a ground floor with six storeys of offices and four basement parking levels including nearly 2,000 parking bays. Commercial architecture practice Aevitas designed the new Deloitte headquarters, which will comply with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Rating on completion.
Bulk earthworks for the project will start in August 2017, with construction commencing on Deloitte’s new Gauteng office in the final quarter of this year. The development will be complete in the first quarter of 2020. Deloitte will begin operating from its new South African base from April 2020.
Gauteng-based transport economist Andrew Marsay earlier in February detailed his vision for a high-density, high-value public transport system in South Africa, delivered in a presentation at the i-Transport and UATP conference, held in Sandton. Engineering News senior deputy editor Irma Venter asked him about the transformation his vision requires.
You believe that a high-density, high-value public transport system is the best answer for South Africa. What does this system entail?
In order to allow more people from more parts of Gauteng to participate effectively in the modern economy, existing and emerging higher-density, high-value nodes need to be efficiently linked with the main existing, and emerging, residential nodes.
Current public transport modes, and routes, tend to serve historic arrangements of ferrying people from townships to industrial areas and older employment nodes. Their inherited spatial footprint means that they cannot perform this linking function.
Only higher-quality modes such as modern regional rail (like the Gautrain) have a strong enough impact on travel pattern sand spatial development trends to achieve the beneficial impact of improved accessibility to the modern economy.
Even though the cost is higher, the benefit equation is much better than when investing in existing modes that do not achieve this purpose. This is because they add urban economic efficiency gains to conventional transport economic benefits.
In working towards this system, you have identified two weak points, with nontolled freeways being the first. Why is this hampering pubic transportdevelopment?
Freeways encourage the use of cars and also consolidate low-density development patterns that, in the long-term, reduce urban economic efficiency.
Freeways that are ‘free at the point of use’ – untolled – exacerbate this effect. While beneficial for the motorised sections of the community, keeping commuter freeways free at the point of use undermines efforts to improve public transport.
It also diverts public money that could otherwise be spent on new, improved high-quality public transport systems.
As such, untolled freeways are contrary to national, provincial and metropolitan transport policies that all call for the prioritisation of public transport investment over road investment.
The second weak point you identified is the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), despite the multibillion- rand recapitalisation project at Metrorail. Why so?
PRASA tends to prioritise capital spending over operational efficiency improvements.
It is investing in rolling stock and infrastructure improvements, but ignoring the reality that its inefficient, nonmarket-orientated operating model is seeing commuter rail’s market share bleed away.
This wrong prioritisation is a direct consequence of an industry structure that confuses public-sector control with public benefit.
Notwithstanding this, a short window of opportunity exists for linking some PRASA routes with current and hopefully also future modern rapid rail services.
This could be done either by building additional rapid railroutes using PRASA’s Cape gauge, or by building links between some existing PRASA routes and interchange stations on existing and future rapid rail routes. But the very minimum conditions for this idea to be useful will be for PRASA to invite operating support from known, successful rail operators and to have consolidated service management arrangements with the modern rapid rail system.
What should the role of minibus taxis be in a high-density, high-value public transport model?
The minibus-taxi mode is well suited to our current low-density environment.
Because the industry is privately operated, it adapts well to changing development trends.
Whether we go for higher-density, higher- value economic development based on a more extensive network of modern public transport modes, or resign ourselves to low-density inefficiency, the minibus-taxi industry will continue serving the large spaces that will always exist between formal public transport routes.
You mentioned the need to build a new consensus around an ‘urban economic- efficiency-based future’ for Gauteng. What do you mean?
Unlike in the early 2000s, when the Gauteng economy was growing at 8% a year, we now have slow growth and a tendency for stakeholders to withdraw into the safety of their ideological shells.
Yet, if ever there was a time for the ‘deideologisation’ of decision-making, in transport especially, it is now. Decisions taken, postponed or simply avoided now will affect our future for better or worse for decades to come.
The most likely scenario for the future is always the one of least resistance. In transport terms, this would mean my ‘go with the flow’ scenario that accepts low urban density, low economic growth and low transport quality as inevitable.
The outcome will be a low-grade form of social equity that some might call mediocrity.
But, with careful choices of the battles to be fought, the alliances to be struck and the emphases to be made, a much brighter urban future could be achieved – the urban economic efficiency scenario of which I have spoken.
Achieving this will require:
• Proactive engagement between provincial and metropolitan transport authorities to determine which transport modes are the best catalysts for such a future – and which are merely supportive of incremental development.
• PRASA to invite international best practice assistance with operations management.
• Revisiting the metropolitan freeway tolling issue within the broader context of integrated transport planning, with explicit links between toll compliance levels and public transport funding.
To achieve consensus of this nature among all transport stakeholders, there must be calls for the use of a multicriteria decision-making matrix in which all, including civil society, participate in order to arrive at an outcome that all can own.
Anti e-toll group the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said on Monday that it has “plenty of evidence” indicating the Gauteng tolling equipment is unreliable. This comes after roads agency Sanral warned high value corporate e-toll defaulters on Monday that they would be issued summonses this week.
It announced that the first set of civil summonses to individuals is being delivered by sheriffs in different jurisdictions in Gauteng. “The summonses will also include higher value summonses of mostly companies. Due to the amount owed in these cases, the summons has to be managed by the High Court,” said Alex van Niekerk, project manager for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
However, Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of the Outa, said there can be no consensus for e-toll defaulters. “The fact that Sanral have determined the liability of the user in terms of their equipment that has not been approved, verified, certified and re-certified in South Africa in accordance with South African legislation, generates additional complications to Sanral’s case,” he said. “Outa has plenty of evidence indicating the equipment is unreliable.” Duvenage said the companies and people who may be at risk of a summons are those who have signed Sanral’s e-toll contracts in the past and have now defaulted on these.
“However, even in this situation, we know that many businesses would have initially signed these agreements under duress of Sanral’s initial threats of criminal prosecution and they will have a strong chance to defend their their rights of ceasing to pay for the unjust e-toll scheme.”
“We know of many businesses and individuals who have paid up and cancelled their agreements with Sanral and by doing so, have joined the other 80% to 90% of the road-users who are not paying,” said Duvenage.
“We estimate that between 60 and 70% of all Gauteng road-users have never signed up or ever paid. They have very valid arguments to defend themselves and we believe are not at risk.” The decision to issue summonses comes at the end of an extensive period of communications between Sanral and vehicle owners who neglected to pay outstanding debts, Sanral said. Since the introduction of the 60% discount of e-toll debt in November 2015, Sanral said it made it quite clear it will also introduce a process of debt collection against serial defaulters.
Sanral said the Electronic Toll Collection company (ETC) who run the system on behalf of Sanral have reiterated and amplified this, not only through the media but also directly to individuals through phone calls, e-mails and SMS messages. A civil summons must not be confused with criminal proceedings, Sanral said. “It is similar to not have paying any commercial accounts and should not be confused with a criminal case.”
The Gauteng government has made strides in accommodating pupils with special educational needs by building eight special schools in the townships.
Premier David Makhura said the eight schools were currently functional, adding the government would open a further eight such schools later this year. Makhura said the government was also establishing schools of specialisation to strengthen its skills base, especially in critical areas such as commerce, maths, science and technology.
“In the coming months, we will launch a school of specialisation in Emndeni in Soweto,” said Makhura. The government is spending more than R560 million on bursaries, learnerships and internships to equip the youth with the necessary skills and work experience.
“This will increase to R1 billion over the next two years,” he said. Gauteng municipalities were presently spending close to R30 million contributing to the education of children from poor households, said Makhura. He stressed education remains the backbone of radical social-economic transformation and that a nation that neglects education, neglects its future.
The Gauteng government is progressing with the further rollout of smart schools in the province. In 2014 they introduced the Classroom of the Future and last year the province had seven schools connected to the e-learning platform.
“We now have 1 861 grade 12 classrooms, 3 098 grade 11 classrooms and 42 schools connected to the e-learning system.” The premier said at the Protea Glen Secondary School and the Chief Albert Luthuli Primary School he witnessed firsthand how ICT has transformed both the learning experience of children and the teaching experience for teachers.
Teachers at the school said kids now arrive very early and stay much longer after school due to the increased level of interest generated by self-learning through the tablets government provided.
While Gauteng has briefly enjoyed some much needed rainfall (and hail), the water crisis in the country is expected to continue into 2016.
South Africa has experienced little to no rainfall since the beginning of the year, and as a result, drought conditions are being experienced across the country.
To date, five provinces are severely affected by the drought and have been declared disaster areas, with KwaZulu Natal the worst affected. Other provinces include Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.
According to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWA), South Africa experienced its worst drought in 1983 with the national average dam level at 34.0%.
“Currently our national average dam level is sitting at 63.3%. This means that our regional water supply dams and schemes remain water secure sitting with positive water balance,” it said.
South Africa receives an annual rainfall of 492 millimetres, close to half of the global average of 985 millimetres. It is therefore classified as a water-stressed nation.
To compound matters, the country’s water distribution is split between east and west – 43% of South Africa’s total rainfall occurs on only 13% of the land according to the DWA.
The DWA forecast in the mid-2000s that water demand would outstrip supply in Gauteng by 2013 – and the rest of the country by 2025 – but little has been done by industry and individuals to curb water wastage.
Water levels in South Africa 2015
Who’s using all the water
There are six major water use sectors, namely, irrigation, urban use, rural use, mining and bulk industrial, power generation, and afforestation.
Studies done by the department show that the vast majority of water in South Africa is used in agriculture, with over 60% of all available water going into the sector for irrigation.
As much as 30% of water in SA is for urban and rural use (including domestic use), while the rest is split among industrial, power generation and afforestation uses.
|Mining and Bulk Industrial use||5.7%|
About 12% of all water is used for domestic (home) use, in the country.
Urbanisation is a major problem – putting pressure on water systems, while growing cities leads to deforestation and an increase of pollution, which ruins water quality, too.
While the profiles for rural and urban home use of water are very different, flushing toilets is the biggest water user in both areas.
|Bath and Shower||19%||32%|
|Other (Cooking, Cleaning, Washing Dishes, Drinking, etc)||8%||14%|
Looking at homes with gardens, up to 46% of all water is used up taking care of it.
|Homes with Gardens||%|
|Other (See above)||54%|
Petrol stations in Gauteng will continue to run dry, while the rest of the country remained unaffected by the fuel shortage, the Fuel Retailers Association said on Tuesday.
CEO Reggie Sibiya said there were still shortages, and BP service stations were the worst affected.
“Products affected are Unleaded Petrol 93, Unleaded Petrol 95 and Diesel 50. Both the Alrode Depot and Langlaagte Depot have, on more than one occasion, run out of these products,” he said.
“Over 100 service stations also reported running dry of one or more of these products over the past two days.”
He said the shortage was exclusive to Gauteng.
“We are told that over and above the planned shutdown at the Engen Refinery [Enref] in Durban, disruptions occurred on production at SAPREF, leading to product shortages via pipeline from the coast to inland.”
The South African Petroleum Refineries [SAPREF] – a joint venture between Shell Refining SA and BP Southern Africa – are located in Durban and on the east coast of the country.
Sibiya said the association was concerned because little had been done to “buffer stock and storage capacity to mitigate things like planned maintenance shutdowns, especially in critical areas like Gauteng”.
“It is always the small sites that become marginalised and have to incur expenses like wages and electricity when there are no products to sell,” he added. “Some sites have been running dry since Friday.”
He said while the situation seemed to be improving, he was not sure when it would be resolved.
“We hope it will be over in the next couple of days.”
Meanwhile, the South African Petroleum Industry Association in KwaZulu-Natal said it was not affected.
“Our refinery is fully online and producing petroleum products,” said Cindy Govender, the association’s sustainable development manager.
News24 contacted various service stations in KwaZulu-Natal, including the Shell garage in Overport, Shell on the corner of Innes Road and Lillian Ngoyi Road and the BP garage on Che Guevara Road. None were affected by the fuel shortage.
A breakdown in Vaal Dam sewage management is polluting the water for 10-million people in Gauteng while locals live next to streams of human waste.
“Let’s chase the shit!” The statement comes with a wry chuckle on a weather-beaten face, attempting to downplay the seriousness of the situation. Peet Schabort is in search of the next sewage discharge in his hometown of Deneysville.
Sitting on the bank of the Vaal Dam, next to its wall, the town is being overwhelmed by streams of human waste. The ordure is not hard to find. Flocks of birds congregate around lakes of sewage. The murky water is bordered by dark green grass – in stark contrast to the yellow grass that dominates the northern Free State in winter.
Built in the 1930s as a job creation programme during the Great Depression, the dam’s billion cubic metres of water supply most of Gauteng’s drinking water. It is also a catchment for rivers in Gauteng, the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga – to which it supplies irrigation water.
There is an adage here: “Where there are herons, there is shit.”
At fault are the town’s two sewerage pumping stations and the wastewater works that should be cleaning that waste. But it was built for a town of 4 000 people; four times that number now live in the area. The 2012 Green Drop report into the treatment works said they were running at 200% capacity. A 2014 water affairs inspection found “the plant design capacity is 2.59-megalitres a day but it is operating at almost 100% over capacity”.
Liquid chlorine was used as an emergency treatment when spillages occurred – but the municipality could not afford this and applied for funding to upgrade the plant.
The treatment plant is on empty grassland between the adjoining township of Refengkgotso and the two-storey municipal waste dump. It was built without environmental permits. When the Mail & Guardian arrived, the previously stationary aeration arms of the plant’s flotation ponds suddenly started working.
The blue of the Vaal Dam is visible a kilometre from the top of the dump. Yachts sit anchored at the marina, obscured at times by the stinking smoke coming off the dump.
A rusted red tractor pulls into the plant to dump waste collected from homes still using the bucket system. The pungent smell of sewage throttles every other aroma.
Locals say only a fraction of waste makes it to the works. “Basically, the plant now appears to comply with legislation because all the extra sewage is not getting to the plant,” says Irene Main, chairperson of the nongovernmental organisation, Save the Vaal. Standing next to the drunkenly skew and open gates to the plant, she hands us her pile of correspondence with government departments – so thick that her hand cannot grasp around it. “Nobody is taking responsibility for the sewage. Apparently having diarrhoea and E.coli levels at dangerous levels is acceptable.”
Solids and liquids
A few hundred metres from the plant, the pipe carrying sewage to it is leaking into people’s township homes. Solids and liquids bubble up and flow downhill.
None of this seems to upset Johannes Tladi. With a welcoming smile he steps across the blocks in his yard enabling him to walk across the sewage. But then his mood changes: “This really isn’t good. How are we supposed to live like this?”
His supper is cooking in a three-legged pot, which keeps sinking into the saturated earth. Things are worst in spring when the heavy rains come – the lake of sewage in his yard has been there since November, he says.
A manhole cover for the pipe that heads towards the sewerage works continually leaks into his yard. “We ask our municipality but they do nothing,” he says. “Maybe when it is election time they will come and promise to do something.”
When the treatment works is pushed beyond capacity – which locals say is on a weekly basis – it floods into nearby fields. Danie Cilliers’s farm dam is the first stop for the sewage. Green algae floats on its surface. “My fields here are all dead so I can’t grow crops, and now my cattle cannot drink the water.”
He has turned to raising wild game, which are hunted by poachers with packs of dogs. The Vaal Dam is half a kilometre downhill from his dam. When it overflows, the sewage goes straight into South Africa’s most important water source. Narrowing the peak of his khaki cap, he says his boreholes are now contaminated by the sewage and irrigation water from the Vaal is already polluted.
“It’s lunacy,” says Johannesburg water rights activist Paul Fairall, who has been agitating around water for many decades. “We’re poisoning our drinking and farming water because nobody cares enough to stop our municipalities and companies.
“You have clean water coming from Lesotho [through the Highlands water scheme] into the Vaal Dam, and then you pollute it so much that it has to be heavily treated to become drinking water again.”
Fairall says this with a resigned tone. “But nobody is willing to step on anybody else’s toes so the pollution is not being stopped.”
In the case of Deneysville, the municipality started building a new waste pipeline and an artificial reed-bed to release more waste into the dam. The reeds would help treat the water before it was released. But the municipality did not ask for a water-use licence from the water department and, in this case, the department was able to stop construction.
What water the wastewater plant does release through the old pipeline – when it does not overflow – goes into the Vaal Dam 400m away from the inlet pipe for Rand Water. This supplies drinking water to 10-million people in Gauteng. Its last annual report noted that “a number of water quality issues have been identified with regard to the current quality of the Vaal River system”. These include an increase in salinity, sulphates, microbiological pollutants and dissolved solids.
Biological and chemical challenges
Rand Water says in its quarterly report released in April this year that the most significant “water quality challenges” are biological (from faecal matter) and chemical (from gold mining and industrial pollutants). It says that the majority of municipalities around the dam are in contravention of the National Water Act because they are releasing unsafe levels of ammonia and E.coli. The co-operative governance department and municipality did not respond to questions about these contraventions.
Rand Water, which monitors water quality on behalf of water affairs, also avoided answering questions this week. The results of its research are given to local water forums. In most cases the levels in the dam exceed safe levels as prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
The pollutants in the dam can lead to cancer, birth defects, skin problems and brain damage, in the long term. But in Deneysville the short-term effects – such as diarrhoea – are in abundance.
“We are creating a breeding ground for super diseases,” says Andre Johnson, who lives downstream from the sewerage plant. He recently caught fish in the Vaal Dam that were covered in sores. “Things are becoming strange.”
They pour excuses on troubled waters
The Vaal Dam was built to catch and supply water to the economic heartland of South Africa. But it has become ringed by heavy industry, mining, farming and human settlements. Each releases its own pollutants into the dam.
The drinking water provider to Gauteng, Rand Water, has to purify the water it sources from the Vaal Dam. Everyone else – from farmers to people downstream who don’t have purification facilities – has to use polluted water.
The water affairs department’s policy on this is dubbed “fixing pollution with dilution”. When the water becomes too polluted, more water is allowed to flow through the Vaal. This is despite South Africa being the 30th driest country in the world.
Solutions are supposed to come from catchment management agencies. These bring together anyone using water to work out issues of sharing and stopping pollution. But, despite being mooted a decade ago, most of these are still not operating.
Instead, users meet at water forums. The minutes from several of these around the Vaal Dam point to municipal wastewater treatment plants as the biggest headache when it comes to dirty water.
Water affairs says in its annual reports in the 2000s these plants released 200 000 tonnes of salts into the dam each year. Industry added 280 000 tonnes more, which resulted in levels five times the World Health Organisation’s recommendation.
The 2010 minutes of the Blesbokspruit water forum, in the Vaal Dam’s catchment area, come with quarterly water quality status bulletins for the whole area. Recorded by Rand Water, almost every reading along the dam and in its two subsidiary rivers indicates dangerously elevated levels of ammonia, chloride, nitrate, phosphate, sulphate, E.coli and other pollutants.
In often heated discussions – recorded in the minutes – exasperated government officials argue with each other about the causes of pollution and ways to stop them. When questions are raised by civil society, polite answers that allude to overriding political concerns are given.
In a meeting last year one water official said: “All we can do is keep diluting water in the Vaal as there is little will to really tackle the problem: the polluters … especially since local government is such a big source of that pollution.”
The lack of government co-operation is continually repeated. In Deneysville, 2 500 new houses are being built without a corresponding upgrade to the already broken wastewater treatment system.
Old mines south of the dam have been allowed to continue polluting the Wilge River, which brings water from Lesotho to the Vaal. These are linked to several large bird and fish die-offs. New gold and coal mines have been given prospecting licences by the mineral resources department along the dam’s eastern shore. The mines south of Heidelberg are going ahead despite opposition from Rand Water and water affairs about being in a critical water catchment.
Sewerage plants, the worst polluters, fall under the co-operative governance department. Municipalities, such as Deneysville, are given funding to build and maintain their works. The water department gives them a licence to do this, on condition that they release clean water back into local water sources. These sources are owned by the department, which acts as the custodian of all the water in the country.
To track these plants, water affairs used to release the annual Green Drop report. The last one said six plants around the Vaal Dam were releasing “noncompliant” water, in other words, illegal water. But an official in Pretoria says: “Our hands are tied. This gem [the Vaal Dam] in our water system is being destroyed by municipalities, but what can we do? Government departments are not allowed to take each other on.”
Johannesburg – Gauteng’s population is projected to double over the next 25 years, placing increased pressure on public transport, Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi has said.
“Gauteng’s population has doubled in the last 20 years. We got our 25-year plan – the integrated master plan,” Vadi told News24.
“They’ve forecasted that, and we’re predicting that, again, in the next 25 years the population will double. I think that trend, at this stage, we can say that’s the trend.
“Stats SA did a census in October 2011. Gauteng’s figure was 12.3 million. 2011, 2012, 2013, we are now on to either 12.9 or 13 million already.”The department had a ballpark figure of around 20 000 people coming into Gauteng every month from across the country, Southern Africa, and overseas.
Pressure on government
“It puts a lot of pressure on government because you then have to provide schooling, health facilities, housing, so it’s not just roads and transport,” Vadi says.
“I know the education department, every year it struggles. They’ve got an upfront student enrolment programme and they start I think now already, but come the first day of school next year parents will be waiting at the school gate, wanting admission.”
“Where do they come from? Where were they for the last nine months when schools were doing enrolments and those kinds of things.”
It was a symptom of the migration, and in terms of transport, it pressurised the province’s road network and public transport.
“Many of those who are coming into the province are not necessarily economically productive. They are in search of employment and therefore they rely on a cheap and affordable and reliable public transport system, and we’re trying to play catch up and trying to build that public transport system,” Vadi says.
“I think we got the core elements, but it’s not fully integrated. It’s not extensive enough, it doesn’t allow for seamless movement from one point to the other, and therefore the very, very heavy reliance on the taxi industry.”
The province’s approach to public transport was three-fold, with Vadi believing the biggest initiative from national, provincial and local government was the bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
Bus rapid transit
“Joburg is leading with that, they’ve got two phases rolled out in the Rea Vaya. Tshwane has started now with A Re Yeng. The first phase is ready, they’re busy extending the first phase, and then hopefully by April next year, Ekurhuleni will have the first phase up and running also,” Vadi says.
“This is a five-year programme for all of the metropolitan municipalities. If we complete all of these projects on time, as planned, we would have probably about 700km to 800km of BRT network running into the all the metropolitan municipalities.”
He said the role of the province was to connect the different systems, which are confined within the boundaries of the different metros.
“One needs to create some kind of interconnectivity between these systems, so we are identifying intermodal points where you can say hop off Rea Vaya and then hop onto A Re Yeng, so that you can have movement from here to Pretoria,” Vadi says.
The second element of public transport was the Gautrain, with the project’s first phase having been completed.
“I think all the signs are that it is a very successful project. Ridership on average is growing at 2% every month. The latest figures we’ve got is 55 000 passengers daily, about 1.3 million every month. We are now busy with the planning for the second phase of the Gautrain which is an extension, a completely new development,” the MEC says.
“The pre-feasibility study says there is a basis for that. We are busy with the feasibility study which should be ready by the middle of next year and based on that report, we can then go to National Treasury, get some funding from the provincial treasury then approach the market for major investment.”
The second phase of Gautrain’s development would be a 10-year project. While Vadi wished it could be easier, when it came to multi-term projects, especially large ones like the Gautrain, rolling out public transport infrastructure took time.
The third element towards getting public transport right in Gauteng was Metrorail.
“Metrorail moves about a million people daily. It’s an old, rickety system, and I think we really, really have to put a lot of energy rebuilding that system, revitalising it,” Vadi says.
“Hopefully the first signs of that will materialise later this year. Round about November, we’re expecting the first 20 coaches to come, 20 trains. Their’s, I think, will be a 10 or 15-year programme. In total they’ll be getting about 6 000 to 8 000 new coaches. For Gauteng, we should be getting about 2 800 new coaches over the next decade.”
Coupled with the new coaches was the modernisation of the signalling system, which Vadi says at present was an old cable network which was manually operated.
“Everything is done manually and that’s why you have these accidents. They busy setting up a new control centre,” he says.
“It should be ready by October this year; fibre-optic cabling, with a very modern control room signalling system. The technology has to change, the rail technology has to change, so that’s the new coaches.”
It was not a quick fix, with the turn-around time being around 10 years, but Vadi said the National Treasury had made a commitment to finance and fund these developments.
“The horizon looks good, but I wish it would’ve been done yesterday,” Vadi says.
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Portions of the barren riverbank of the Vaal River, south of Gauteng, are in for grand development plans over the next 15 years.
The greenfield site along the Vaal River will soon see a new multi-billion city start to unfold at the end of the year – reviving the economic and industrial activity of the
Vaal River City is a mixed-use development which is one of the five new corridors identified by the Gauteng Provincial Government, which is set to create new economic nodes, cities and industries.
The planned city in Gauteng’s Southern Corridor – which is made up of the Sedibeng district – is earmarked to revive the area’s once thriving steel industry which collapsed about two decades ago.
It is dubbed South Africa’s “first post-apartheid city”, a private-public partnership with an estimated construction cost of R4 billion but on completion the valuation will balloon to R11 billion, according to Kukama’s estimates. The proposed development, which was unveiled to the media on Friday, resides in a 250-hectare piece of land, spanning the upper end of Vanderbijlpark, Sharpeville and Emfuleni City through to Sasolburg and the Vaal.
Sedibeng has lacked proper investments, resulting in poor infrastructure and lack of proper job opportunities. On a social level, the dearth of facilities has led to residents travelling far to work, retail and healthcare amenities.
See the planned development below:
Source: The Vaal River City Development Company
A new city born
Over the past ten years, gated and exclusive mixed-used developments have mushroomed catering largely to well-heeled individuals, but Vaal River City’s mandate is to be affordable and accessible to surrounding communities. It has been in the making since 2008 when developer Reggie Kukama had a vision to create a city that all individuals had access to.
“I wanted to break the mentality where there are certain things that don’t belong to you, but it is for someone. I bet you 90% of people at Sharpeville have never been to the Vaal River. When are people in this country going to enjoy these things?” Kukama asks.
Portions of the Vaal River are privatised, but the appeal of having a potential city with a 6km riverfront expanse made the investment case for the development strong. Also, the site is anchored by well-established road infrastructure such as the R15 into Johannesburg and two bridges across the river to Sasolburg, Vanderbijlpark and other townships – meaning there would be less capital invested in upgrading surrounding road infrastructure.
Kukama, who has been in the built environment for 18 years approached government to plug in his vision, which he says was an easy sell, given that it was in line with government’s focus on mixed-income and high-density human settlements.
“All we need to do was bring our fresh ideas to develop the site,” he says.
The government usually favours projects which have a potential for job creation – and Vaal River City is eyeing ambitious employment figures. “There will be 10 000 job opportunities during construction and a further 19 000 people will be employed after construction across the development’s components,” says Kukama.
The land for the development belonged to seasoned developer Giuseppe Plumari who owned it for about 20 years. The land was non-core to Plumari and he sold it to The Vaal River City Development Company, a black economic empowerment consortium headed by Kukama. Plumari, who has a 30% shareholding in the development, is also involved with insurance baron Douw Steyn in the mega-mixed use development Steyn City, sandwiched between Dainfern and Diepsloot.
The development’s features
The master plan of the development promises many features. It will boast 400 000 square metres of commercial office space, with various municipalities making an intention to set up offices in Vaal River City. The Emfuleni and Midvaal local municipalities will consolidate with the Sedibeng district municipality to establish a single metropolitan municipality. A court of law and various government departments will set up at the new city.
The development will also have a 60 000 square metre regional shopping centre and a healthcare facility. Commercial and retail space will make up 75% to 80% of the Vaal River City development.
Furthermore, four-storey apartment buildings with 5 000 units will be on offer. Howard Rawlings, who is involved in the town planning process of the development, says developers can buy land at the site and turn it into residential space. The apartments, Rawlings says, will largely fall into the category of affordable units – valued at R400 000 to R800 000.
The government might also get into the residential act through leasing units, in a bid to address South Africa’s housing backlog. It is expected that 60% of people who reside in the development will be from the Vaal.
The Vaal University of Technology is a stone’s throw away from the planned city which also presents opportunities for student accommodation within the development, says Kukama.
Kukama says the vision for Vaal River City is for it to be as pedestrian friendly as possible, as it will have a 20-hectare bird sanctuary and parklands with walkways and picnic spots.
As part of the development’s sustainability agenda, buildings at Vaal River City will have environmentally friendly features. They will be designed to incorporate energy efficient heating and cooling, lighting, water saving systems, designs allowing for the use of natural lighting and recycled construction materials, says Nishal Mistry of DBM Architects.
“Those are the conscious initiatives that we will put in and obviously the rest become determined by budget. The intention is to go as green as possible and get some of the buildings green star rated in the long term,” Mistry explains.
For now, the priority for developers is luring more partners to invest in making Vaal River City possible. Kukama says the phases of the development are fluid, as he foresees up to five phases; the first focusing on road infrastructure to the tune of R2 billion.
Part of the road infrastructure spend will be dedicated to make way for public transport access, as Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System stops will be dotted across the city, together with taxi ranks. Cycle lanes are also in the pipeline. Another pressing issue facing the developers is dealing with sewerage at the site, as it is “the biggest issue to address in the area.”
Projects of this nature are capital intensive and a return on investment might take a while to materialise. At this point, key players behind the development are cautious about targets. “My view on property is we never look at short term returns, everything we do is on a long term basis,” Plumari says.
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The Gauteng government has announced interventions to change the space and structure of the province’s economy to help address unemployment, poverty and inequality. Speaking during the State of the Province Address on Monday, Premier David Makhura said these interventions were spatial reconfiguration; township economy revitalisation; and investment in infrastructure that the provincial government would undertake in partnership with municipalities and the private sector. Gauteng City Region’s space and economy would be configured into five development corridors that would have distinct industries and different comparative advantages, Makhura said.These are:
- Central Development Corridor, which will anchored around the City of Johannesburg as the hub of finance, services, ICT and pharmaceutical industries;
- Eastern Development Corridor, which will be anchored around the economy of the Ekurhuleni Metro as the hub of manufacturing, logistics and transport industries;
- Northern Development Corridor, which will anchored around Tshwane as South Africa’s administrative capital city and the hub of the automotive sector, research, development, innovation and the knowledge-based economy;
- Western Corridor, which encompasses the economy of the West Rand district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities; and
- Southern Corridor, which encompasses the economy of the Sedibeng district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities.
Makhura said the provincial government would “mobilise” more than R10-billion in public and private investments in the regeneration of the Joburg CBD as the seat of the provincial government.The Premier said Gauteng would work with national government and the City of Joburg to ensure that the Central Corridor became the home of the proposed Brics regional development bank.A plan to revitalise the townships of Kliptown and Alexandra was also under discussion with government and the City as “the two townships are in a terrible and sorry state of disrepair”, Makhura said.
Makhura also announced that 140 000 housing units would be built in the next five years in the area to help change human settlement patterns.Together with the private sector and the City of Johannesburg, there were plans to transform the spatial landscape of the Central Corridor, which include:
- Masingita City, an integrated commercial and industrial hub, is a R3- billion private investment that is expected to create 15 500 jobs during its construction, which will begin in March.
- Rietfontein. With an investment of R20-billion, this will be a complete mixed-use node with more than 8 000 proposed residential units, including commercial property, distribution and warehousing, retail and education facilities.
- Waterfall City, the largest city to be built in post-apartheid South Africa. The estimated investment during construction is R71-billion, with an estimated 100 000 jobs to be created by the project.
- The Modderfontein development will inject R84-billion into the economy of the Gauteng City Region and is expected to create 150 000 jobs over the next 20 years.
Turning to the Eastern Development Corridor, Makhura said 29 industrial initiatives under the banner of the Aerotropolis would be undertaken to revitalise manufacturing, aviation, transport and logistics industries linked to OR Tambo International Airport.”This will dramatically transform the current industrial structure of the economy of Ekurhuleni,” Makhura told the legislature.Other projects in the corridor will be the Tambo Springs Inland Port Development, with an estimated R7.5-billion investment over five years.The first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Ekurhuleni would be operational by March next year, Makhura said, and more than 100 000 housing units would be built in the area over the next five years.
SA’s biggest convention centre
Makhura said Gauteng would be working with Tshwane to develop the West Capital development project in the Northern Corridor. This will include a student village, sport incubatory centre, retail and commercial components, inner city housing and health facilities.The African Gateway in the heart of Centurion would be a partnership with the private sector and will comprise South Africa’s largest convention centre, an hotel, residential, commercial and additional office space.
The City of Tshwane would be investing R525-million to establish a business process outsourcing park in Hammanskraal, Makhura said. “The park will offer on-site training, technical support and incubators for SMMEs. The project is expected to create more than 1 000 jobs during construction and more than 1 000 indirect jobs.”Working with the private sector, Tshwane would also continue to rolling out free wi-fi within the City. To date, R150-million had already been invested in this initiative.Makhura said more than 160 000 houses would be built in the area.Green economyThe economy of the Western Corridor would focus on green and blue economy initiatives, tourism, agro-processing and logistics, said Makhura.”Lanseria Airport and Maropeng World Heritage Site will be the main anchors of the new city and new economy of the West Rand,” he said.The corridor would be positioned as a hub of agriculture and agroprocessing, and a public-private partnership would see the development of aquaculture projects, such as the prawn farming facility, the premier said.He said more than 160 000 houses are to be built in the area.
Makhura said the economy of the Southern Corridor needed to move from an “over- reliance on the steel industry” to one that included tourism and entertainment, agro- processing and logistics management.Among the projects would be the development of the new Vaal River City (hydropolis), with a private sector investment of more than R4-billion.Over the next five years, more than 120 000 houses in Sedibeng will be built.”Also in this corridor, we will continue to support the Gauteng Highlands development, a mixed-use development comprising industrial and residential space. This is a R40-billion investment aimed at creating 25 000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Makhura.
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