Our Burning Planet


Jozi My Jozi spearheads critical change and rise of Johannesburg urban rehabilitation

Jozi My Jozi spearheads critical change and rise of Johannesburg urban rehabilitation
Wayne Dawson leads the safety and security team at Jozi My Jozi. (Photo: Supplied)

The movement has embarked on cleaning up Joburg’s sight-for-sore-eyes gateways. 

Johannesburg is known for its complex urban challenges related to crime, urban decay, decayed infrastructure, inadequate waste management, informal recycling activities, hijacked buildings… The list goes on.

Though attempts have been made over the past 30 years to address these challenges, they have lacked the comprehensive approach of collaboration bringing together the City of Joburg and its agencies, community groups, businesses, corporates and residents to create a safer, cleaner and more liveable Johannesburg for all its inhabitants.

The Jozi My Jozi gateways project aims to transform city gateways into clean, safe and creative spaces.

“The main gateways into Jozi set the tone for your overall experience of the inner city, whether you are a resident, student, worker, business owner or visitor. They are the crucial points from where people form their impressions of the city,” says Bea Swanepoel, acting chief executive of Jozi My Jozi.

“The gateways project has been initiated to create a sense of arrival through the 10 main gateways into the city to ensure that people passing through feel inspired and uplifted, but most importantly, safe.

“The downtown Jozi gateways project is one of a number of interventions being undertaken through our partnership with the City of Johannesburg, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The 10 identified gateways have been selected as they are critical points along the movement corridors that hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors take into the city on a daily basis.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to shift perceptions and the mindset that the inner city is unsafe and degraded, and to set a new tone for those arriving in the city.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Jozi My Jozi poised as the catalyst for Joburg’s ‘phoenix moment’ of inner-city renewal

The project has set out several objectives:

  • To create a sense of arrival through the main gateways to downtown Jozi;
  • To address areas of neglect, degradation and blight by introducing cleaning, landscaping, maintenance and security;
  • To install sustainable physical infrastructure elements to support the delivery of services, such as solar lighting, waste bins, CCTV cameras, etc;
  • To introduce place-making elements to enhance the space, including street furniture, landscaping, vibrant murals and art installations; and
  • To ensure the sustainability of the implementation, in partnership with the City and with an adoptee committing to the upkeep of the gateways.

Spearheading the clean-up blitzes currently underway at the gateways is the safety and security pillar of the Jozi My Jozi movement, with team leader Wayne Dawson at the helm.

“It is very encouraging to see all the parties involved in the project working together and making great strides to revitalise our inner-city gateways,” says Dawson.

“We have already been active in several areas over the past few weeks, including the precinct at Rissik Street north; the Mooi Street off-ramp under the Wemmer Pan Road bridge; the Heidelburg Road interchange (east and west abutments); areas around the Ellis Park precinct including Charlton Terrace; and Village Road and the Selby underpasses around the Standard Bank precinct.

“From clearing illegal dumping sites to conducting structural assessments of bridges, we’re making a real difference in our city’s landscape, and we encourage the citizens of Jozi to join us in building a cleaner, safer and more vibrant Johannesburg together.”

Jozi My Jozi

Doing a thorough job means getting down and dirty. (Photo: Supplied)

The six-week programme to clean up the gateways has been implemented with the support of key partners such as Region F of the City, the Forum of Integrated Risk Mitigation, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and South African Police Service (SAPS), Pikitup, Joburg City Parks and Zoo, the Johannesburg Roads Agency and Gauteng’s crime prevention wardens, as well as several private companies.

“Once the clean-ups in each area are complete, we will ensure the gateway areas remain clean and safe in a sustainable way going forward,” says Dawson.

“This includes engineers moving on-site to inspect the infrastructure in each area, and then the place-making starts to take shape. Here, we are calling on corporate sponsors to ‘adopt’ a gateway and beautify it through art installations, murals and landscaping projects.

“This initiative underscores the group’s commitment to revitalising and maintaining Johannesburg’s urban landscape, and creating an inclusive environment that caters to the diverse needs of residents, businesses and visitors alike.”

Jozi My Jozi

Workers help to clean up Mooi Street. (Photo: Supplied)

Dawson explains that the clean-up blitzes are not a one-day wonder. In collaboration with the law enforcement entities in the city — the SAPS and JMPD — Jozi My Jozi has drafted a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to govern the future state ofthe gateways.

“As part of our approach to rehabilitate and reinvigorate the gateways, we will factor in a security management plan as defined in the SOPs as an integral part of the business case for the adoption of these gateways. It has to be sustainable,” he says.

Earl Stoles, the deputy director of planning, profiling and data management in the citizen relationship and urban management department in Region F, highlights the urgent need for action to address issues such as illegal land occupation, recycling and dumping.

Jozi My Jozi

The Selby underpass in Village Road gets a makeover. (Photo: Supplied)

He stresses the importance of clean and welcoming gateways to attract investment and boost confidence in Johannesburg’s commercial sector. Swanepoel echoes these sentiments, emphasising the significance of collaborative efforts in transforming Johannesburg for the benefit of all its stakeholders.

“The future prosperity of Joburg hinges on strategic partnerships between public and private entities who are fully committed to the transformation of our inner city for the betterment of all residents, workers and visitors, by instilling hope and pride back into Jozi,” she says. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.

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