Clean up central areas

2019-07-26 16:02

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Let’s clean up the CBD properly.

Sithole expressed concern at the conspicuous lack of investment in the Central Business District (CBD) and other business precincts.

“The deterioration that is happening in the CBD is not in the long-term interest of the city as this undermines its rates base. Thus, it is essential that a major inner-city renewal drive is undertaken to be driven at the level of general managers as a special project.”

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He wants a multi-disciplinary team to be constituted to focus on this project.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING

It is suggested that a dedicated manager be appointed to co­-ordinate and integrate all efforts towards renewal and beautification of the inner city to ensure business retention and attraction of new businesses.

“Equally significant is the need to address deterioration in industrial areas which are also critical for job creation and economic development.”

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He said that according to the Fiscal and Financial Commission (2018), between 1994 and 2015 Msunduzi’s economic growth rate has averaged 9,6% compared to its peers such Mbombela and Polokwane (above 11%) and Rustenburg recording the fastest growth (13,02%). “Msunduzi is therefore punching below its weight.”

He said Msunduzi’s record in terms of underspending on the Neighbourhood Development Grants has also dis­abled it in its efforts to restructure the apartheid spatial landscape.

EMPLOYMENT

In 2016, an estimated 216 000 people were employed, an average growth rate of 2,61% over a 10-year period between 2006 and 2016. “[Msunduzi’s] unemployment rate has declined from 30,7% to 22,2% in the same period.”

INVESTMENT

Sithole highlighted that the turnaround for approval of building plans “is a challenge in Msunduzi”.

“Msunduzi has not experienced major investment other than what was approved during the first intervention in 2011. This makes the city less attractive to businesses. Lack of assurance of electricity supply has become a major binding constraint for developers.”

He said the World Bank study on “Doing Business in South Africa” found that Msunduzi lags behind its peers on issues of property registration and getting electricity.

“Even though electricity is relatively cheaper than other comparable cities, this is insignificant because this has come against the back burner of serious neglect and binding constraints in terms of the assurance of supply.

“This mitigates against attractiveness of Msunduzi as an investment destination. These two areas require that processes are properly streamlined to ensure that it is easier to do business with Msunduzi Municipality on all variables that are considered by the World Bank.”

MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS

He said the Greater Edendale Vulindlela Initiative has a great potential to changing the spatial and urban landscape Msunduzi.

“It carries many opportunities for economic development and job creation near places where the majority of people live. However, the way it is configured and resourced presents major obstacles to realise this potential for mixed-use developments that can propel the property market in these areas linked to the implementation of the Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN).

“This is a major bottleneck to implementation,” Sithole said.

He added the project needed to be properly resourced in terms of offices, permanent project management staff, and IT infrastructure, with a dedicated project manager solely, as well as  land-legal specialist who will also focus on unlocking land challenges facing the Greater Edendale Vulindlela Initiative.

City safer but airport risks losing operation licence

AIRPORT

UNLESS there is proper investment in the infrastructure and operational requirements of the airport, there is a risk that Msunduzi will not comply with the conditions of its operation licence, said Sithole.

He said ACSA has noted a number of “serious deficiencies” that the airport needs to address. He wants these to get high priority.

“Airports are being expanded from transportation centres to economic hubs.

“This new type of urban area has been termed the aerotropolis or airport metropolis and is meant to function as an economic centre with land-use that links local and global markets.

“The Msunduzi Airport precinct should be expanded using the aeropolis principles.”

SAFE CITY

Sithole was impressed with the progress made at Safe City, which since 2003 has made “remarkable progress with regard to monitoring crime via CCTV Cameras on a 24/7 basis in their control room”.

“It started with 15 cameras in 2003 and the number has increased to 169 fixed cameras and a mobile one.”

He said these cameras also cover strategic infrastructure such as primary substations to prevent vandalism.

“There is a need however to make provision for installation of cameras in areas such as the Edendale Business Centre, Harry Gwala sports precinct and Jika Joe area that are not covered by cameras currently.”

In addition, he named three substations that are not covered. (Although provided in the report, The Witness is withholding  the names of these substations.)

He wants the system to be digitalised and says expanding the camera network would help the City gather intelligence about urban management challenges facing the city, like “which areas require waste removal, enforcement of by­ laws, and other infrastructural maintenance issues”.

Safe City requires an about R25 million in its five-year plan to increase the coverage of CCTV cameras.

Sithole wants this capital budget need to be addressed by engaging with Cogta, Department of Community Safety and SAPS “as the benefits that accrue to the city are huge and quantifiable”.

MARKET

The infrastructure at the Market has been recently upgraded and is “in perfect shape”, but, there is a need to review whether it is making money.

He wants the manager position prioritised and wants the financing of the market to be ring-fenced “to assess the overall financial performance and viability”.

He wants proper business planning done there and wants measures for detecting fraud and corruption in the market to be put in place.

FORESTRY

The municipality owns a forestry plantation of about 1 400 hectares.

Historically, it has been managed by Natal Co-operative Timbers since 1988 with a board which was disbanded in 2010 when MFMA kicked in.

“Now it is managed by Ngubane & Co at annual cost of approximately R12,8 million per annum.

“The municipality has registered a company (though dormant at this stage) and has expressed a desire to appoint board members whether on an interim basis or fixed term basis.”

Sithole is however concerned about:

• Whether compliance related to the establishment of the entity and changing of a business model was achieved;

• A business plan was done in 2016 and has not been updated to reflect current situation and projected revenue and expenditure for the future to determine viability;

• Current cash position has not been established.

TOURISM

“Msunduzi Tourism is under-resourced and has not been structured in a way that can optimise its potential in driving job creation and transformation of this sector. This is an area that must be addressed by the intervention to channel investment in tourism assets of the city, especially in the space of culture and heritage,” said Sithole.

RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE PROPERTY SECTOR

Radical economic transformation in the property sector is urgently needed as the majority of properties are owned by few families and who are major benefactors of government leases for office space, said Sithole.

“In this regard, Msunduzi needs to finalise the issue of strategic disposal of strategic land parcels such polocrosse land to drive property development and increase the rates base. Secondly, there is a massive demand on student accommodation given that the city is home to many higher education institutions.

“Therefore, a focus on student accommodation must be given priority by working with the Department of Higher Education and Science and Technology.

“However, student accommodation must be structured in the context of mixed-use development to increase its value across the city, including within Greater Edendale Area.

“Thirdly, there is also a need for KZN government to finalise its plans for the government precinct which has been in the pipeline for more than 10 years.”

But, he warned that the implementation of the precinct must be done in such a way that it does not trigger massive disinvestment in the inner city.

“Finally, Msunduzi must explore opportunities for partnerships with Department of Public Works with regard to modernisation of old government buildings in the city to increase the property market,” said Sithole.

Waste management: ‘Cleaning of city requires major interventions’

The report says Msunduzi Waste Management has not been able to complete its routine daily rounds of refuse collection because of a combination of reasons.

“Grime in major parts of the CBD, northern areas, townships and rural areas is a major concern. The major parts of the CBD are filthy. This manifested in blocked drainage systems, taxi ranks, broken pavements, verges that have not been cleared, the smell of urine and public open spaces where grass has not been cut. Toilets in all taxi ranks are not working.

“Uncollected waste, illegal dumping, and an uncaring business and community that put their waste anywhere they like even after municipal officials have done their daily collections. It is equally foreboding that the municipality lacks a sufficient and well maintained and managed fleet, especially compactors to ensure that routine, daily waste collection is consistently done. There have also been instances where waste employees exhibit a cavalier attitude towards their work, offering a poor service, and abuse overtime. This is due to vacancies in senior management and management supervision positions, and lack of tools of trade. The main focal point for the intervention is the CBD, and secondary business districts in various zones of Msunduzi, and ensuring that weekly refuse service is afforded ...”

Sithole said the cleaning of the city requires major interventions and priority precincts need to be identified especially within the CBD for targeted cleaning on a 24/7 basis on an hour-to-hour basis, “especially in hotspot areas”.

“This must be accompanied by maintenance of verges, roads and drainage systems, environmental health monitoring, enforcement of building controls, traffic management and enforcement. The management of informal trading and unlicensed business premises must be added on the menu of routine work that must be done to sustain the effort to fight crime and grime within the city. This approach will entail the appointment of a champion at general manager level and the setting up of a cross-functional team to drive the whole­ City approach to cleaning the city and to monitor progress. A dedicated budget needs to be set up to sustain this drive.”

Sithole expressed concerns about the landfill site, saying major equipment needed there is defective.

“At a more strategic level the City must develop a strategy for waste minimisation, recycling and the generation of energy from waste.”

Replacing CBD’S ageing roads and stormwater systems ‘The most strategic challenge’

The backlog for roads and stormwater drainage systems is estimated at a massive R2,5 billion.

“The most strategic challenge is that most roads, stormwater and drainage systems and pavements in the CBD require replacement and redesigning to cope with increases in traffic volumes,” said Sithole.

He said Msunduzi needed to partner with Transport to address this backlog. This support must extend to re­gravelling of roads, construction of bridges and blacktopping of some of the major roads that connect communities to social amenities and economic hubs. Sithole slammed the slow pace of the implementation of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN).

He said delays have been caused by a combination of factors:

• Procurement delays and objections;

• Sub-contracting disputes;

• Slow pace of land acquisition;

• Low level of understanding about the project within the organisation;

• Poor delivery by some contractors.

He said an acceleration plan needs to be developed to have buses operational next year, project management resources must be secured; staff on a five-year contract must get certainty on renewal and procurement bottlenecks must also be addressed.

He said a project steering committee must be set up to revisit the administration of the project. Finally, negotiations with the taxi industry and must also be fast-tracked.

Water and sanitation system needs an upgrade

Sithole’s report highlighted the enormous crisis with the Vulindlela Bulk Water Supply, which he says is inadequate to meet the needs of the community there.

“… Most reservoirs and bulk water pipes are now deemed inadequate (undersized) to be able to supply water for the existing let alone the future needs of Wards 1 to 9 and 39.

“One of the main functions of a reservoir is to have adequate storage (water) available at all times.”

He said all reservoirs should be big enough to ensure a 48-hour storage. “However, analysis and current trends in reservoir levels show that two reservoirs (Reservoir 2 and Reservoir 5) do not reach an operating level of at least 80% to satisfy 48-hour storage requirements,” said Sithole.

So the bulk system (command reservoirs, pipelines and pump station), needs to be upgraded.

Sithole said a total of 83 “new” settlements have been established in wards 1 to 9. These settlements have no water services available. Some are currently supplied by water tankers.

He said the Pietermaritzburg area is almost completely served with piped water and waterborne reticulation. “Infrastructure is, however, old and needs replacement. Also, significant infrastructure needs upsizing so that expansions of the network on the periphery can take place.”

The overall cost requirements are R4,978 million.

Sithole said the Greater Edendale area is only partially served with waterborne reticulation. “To serve all areas with waterborne reticulation will also require upgrades in the Pietermaritzburg area and the Darvill Waste Water Works. This will take a long time though. The overall cost is about R646 million.”

Darvill was recognised as the best option to be expanded to ultimately treat 220 Ml/day, to be done in stages, with an estimated total cost of R4,2 billion.

NON-REVENUE WATER

Sithole said non-revenue water in Msunduzi for the 2009/10 financial year is 49,8%. He wants to get this down to between 15% and 30%.

Non-revenue water is the difference in water volume between that bought from Umgeni Water and sold to all of Msunduzi’s customers. This difference is both from physical leaks from pipes as well as unmetered customers and illegal connections.


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