Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality: Planning for an exciting future

Recent elections have cast an air of uncertainty over several important metro zones and town councils, where no political party has gained a majority of seats. These areas, at the time of writing, have two weeks in which to form a coalition or risk their local authority being taken over by the national government.

There are four hung metros: Johannesburg, Tshwane and the East Rand’s Ekurhuleni, in Gauteng, and Nelson Mandela Bay, in Eastern Cape.

In Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, neither the ANC nor the DA achieved the majority needed to govern alone. They have to form coalitions and it remains to be seen whether the EFF will join forces with either the ANC or the DA.

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is a metropolitan municipality that forms the local government of the East Rand region of Gauteng.

The name Ekurhuleni means place of peace in Tsonga. Ekurhuleni is one of the five districts of Gauteng province and one of the eight metropolitan municipalities of South Africa. The seat of Ekurhuleni is Germiston.

Ekurhuleni is an important municipality and plays host to the country’s largest airport, OR Tambo International Airport, in the Kempton Park area.

An Integrated Transport Plan has been initiated to allow Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality to confidently develop a transport system within its responsibilities over the next 5 years.

Following the 2016 municipal elections, Ekurhuleni will include the area of the Lesedi Local Municipality, which will be abolished, making Ekurhuleni the local government of both the East Rand and the rest of south-eastern Gauteng.

In July of 2016, news broke that Ekurhuleni had topped metros in Gauteng’s largest quality of life survey.

The Gauteng City Region Observatory Quality of Life (GCRO QoL) survey placed the Ekurhuleni in the number one spot among Gauteng metros.

The fourth Quality of Life survey indicated a consistent increase in satisfaction pertaining to basic services, such as energy and water, among others, in Ekurhuleni.

The increase is noted from the beginning of the current administration, in 2011.

The 2015 Gauteng City Region Observatory Quality of Life (GCRO QoL) survey revealed that more than 70 per cent of Ekurhuleni residents are generally satisfied with the provision of services in the metro.

Over 80 per cent of residents are satisfied with water services and in excess of 70 per cent of residents have given the city a thumbs up on sanitation services. A similar figure confirmed that they are happy with the provision of energy services, while around 80 per cent are content with the provision of waste removal services.

Further statistics revealed that roughly 49 per cent are satisfied with the costs of the municipality, and 60 per cent of residents are happy with the state of the municipality’s roads. Over 68 per cent are happy with the metro’s public health facilities

Ekurhuleni’s city manager, Khaya Ngema, said: “While this is evidence that the metro is heading in the right direction, more is still required to be done in order to attend to the concerns of the few who were not happy.

“As we go into the new financial year, all hands are on deck from our senior managers and staff to deliver to the people of Ekurhuleni the ideal metro which they have expressed they wanted in the Integrated Development Plan.”

The Quality of Life survey is the largest social attitudes survey conducted in the Gauteng province.

In July there was further accolade for Ekurhuleni when it was announced that the metro had been rewarded for being the second greenest metro in South Africa.

The municipality received R3 million, which will be used in future environmental and green economy initiatives, and a certificate of recognition.

The announcement was made by the National Department of Environmental Affairs during the fifth Greenest Municipality Competition (GMC) held in the Steve Tshwete Municipality in Mpumalanga, recently.

Other winners included the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality in the competition that saw over a 100 metropolitan and local municipalities compete.

“Coming second in the competition means we set the tone that many other metros have learnt from.

“We will accelerate our efforts to claim the number one spot in the competition,” said the metro’s MMC for environmental development, Councillor Ndosi Shongwe.

Ndosi attributed the accolade to the dedicated efforts of various departments including waste management services, health and social services, environmental resource management, as well as the water and energy departments.

A month later, it was announced that the Benoni Mega Mall is set to form an integral part of Ekurhuleni’s aerotropolis project, but it is on ice at the moment.

Pieter Swanepoel, divisional head of city planning at the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) made the statement at the Ekurhuleni Captains of Industry forum, held at the Marechelle Country Estate, in Kempton Park.

Swanepoel addressed the room regarding the city’s plan to build an aerotropolis.

The initiative aims to integrate Ekurhuleni’s infrastructure and businesses to fully benefit from and contribute to the OR Tambo International Airport.

“We, as the city, approached the private sector to work on the aerotropolis; having local business involved is important to us,” Swanepoel said.

He listed several locations within Ekurhuleni, where developments, which will be in line with the aerotropolis, are in different stages of planning or construction.

One such a project is the Mega Mall, along Glen Gory Road, in Vlakfontein 30-IR.

“The project’s timeframe and size will depend on the economy and the market for retail,” he said.

“In terms of the aerotropolis, the mall and the infrastructure upgrades around it will connect the airport to outlying areas, such as Daveyton.

“The metro has already approved the company’s application for the development and will contribute by upgrading the area’s services and infrastructure.

“The developer and metro will share the costs, but a final figure has not been established yet.”

Swanepoel added that there is a 40 per cent discount on the bulk contribution fee to be paid by developers, if the project exceeds a specific size, which this one does.

He said the development won’t start for another year of two.

“But, in addition to the mall, other developers are looking at building residences in the surrounding areas,” he added.

The project is being run by the Benoni Precinct Partnership, an alliance of several companies across the country.

In addition, Swanepoel said, Ekurhuleni is one of the metros in South Africa, with the highest unemployment rates.

“These projects will add economic value to the city and will create thousands of jobs,” he added.

The municipal official said the city is also planning to have a university built in Ekurhuleni.

Whilst the political climate remains in something of a state of flux at the time of writing, longer term there are plenty of reasons to get exciting in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.