As August drew to a close, news broke of a cold front weather warning, set to impact the City of Cape Town.
This was just a minor crisis and indicative of the type of challenge facing the city’s municipality and it was reported that the City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management centre was putting contingency measures in place ahead of the bad weather.
“As with previous episodes of severe weather conditions, the City of Cape Town has put in place measures to try and mitigate the impact, and our operational staff will be on standby to assist residents in need over the next few days. We urge the public to exercise caution, especially on the roads, as we tend to see an increase in motor vehicle accidents during bad weather periods. Allow extra time for travelling and maintain a safe following distance in wet weather where visibility is compromised,” said Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security.
But the municipality’s work stretches way beyond issuing public safety statements, with a remit to transform lives through socio-economic development in one of the world’s most eye-catching cities, a haven for tourists.
A prime example of City of Cape Town’s work has been the introduction of the city’s Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system, the MyCiTi IRT system.
“The improvement of public transport is one of 8 key strategic focus areas identified by the City of Cape Town in its Integrated Development Plan for achieving its long-term vision and developmental goals. Public transport plays a vital role in providing all citizens and visitors with access to opportunities and facilities, whether for economic, education, health, recreation or social purposes,” states the organisation’s website. “Since 2007 the City has been working on the first phase of an Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system in Cape Town, aimed at significantly improving public transport in the City.
The first leg of this IRT system is the dedicated work on the MyCiTi IRT system. While this first leg is primarily a ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ system, it is designed in a way that emphasises the need for integration with other modes, especially rail, the backbone of public transport in Cape Town. “The City is implementing the MyCiTi service in phases. The first elements of the system enabled the City to meet the public transport requirements for hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This service consisted of an events service to the Cape Town Stadium, a service to the Airport and a temporary service around the inner city.
“In May 2011, the first network was launched. This consisted of a route between the Civic Centre station in central Cape Town and Table View; temporary services around the residential areas of Table View, Blaauwberg and Parklands, connecting to the main route; and a connecting temporary route around the central city. “In early 2013, a route between Salt River railway station and the central city was launched, serving the historic Walmer Estate and District Six areas. “Later in the 2013, new routes will be launched covering areas including Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, the Atlantic Seaboard suburbs including Sea Point, Camps Bay, and Hout Bay. “New routes are also being extended to areas north of the central city, including Atlantis, the informal settlements of Dunoon and Joe Slovo Park, the industrial area of Montague Gardens, and the seaside suburb Melkbosstrand.
“The second phase will provide a more extensive service to the southeast parts of the city, including Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, to destinations across the peninsula. The third phase will include Belville, Delft, the rest of the northern suburbs and Stellenbosch, and the fourth phase the Greater Helderberg area. “The full system is expected to take about 15-20 years to implement, with each phase being built as funds become available. Most of the funding comes from the National Department of Transport’s Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems Grant, with the balance funded by the City. “The aim is to eventually build a reliable, safe and cost-effectives transport network within 500 metres of 75 per cent of the homes in the city.”
The IRT system of course reflects the huge importance of an efficient and reliable public transport system. Back in 2012, Councillor Brett Herron explained the role of public transport in Cape Town’s long term future:
“The configuration and transformation of the public transport system in Cape Town requires a significant amount of infrastructure improvement,” he acknowledged, “the road network is another core element and there has been an historical backlog of “apartheid roads” that have been in dire need of upgrading within some of the most disadvantaged areas of the city.”
“We are very mindful of improving public transport and roadways in some of the apartheid legacy areas. We are trying to undo social and economic exclusion and the work we are undertaking will make some of the more disadvantaged areas much more commutable.”
Cape Town’s work has also seen it recognised as World Design Capital for 2014, a distinction awarded to cities which recognise design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development. In 2014 Cape Town will host over 460 design projects aimed at transforming the city. Use our Design Engine to learn more about the projects as well as the people and stories behind them.
Among the many projects underway in Cape Town in conjunction with World Design Capital, is one to transform the underdeveloped township of Philippi. The Western cape township has a population of around 700,000 people, with unemployment a chronic problem.
To help change this, the Philippi Village; a space in the centre of Philippi that will nurture entrepreneurs, support skills development and harness job creation – has been created.
For its use of design that adds value to the economy through innovation, finance, systems and social entrepreneurship, the Philippi Village has been recognised as a World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 project.
Situated on the site of a former cement factory, the Business Place Philippi has been operating for 8 years and services over 4,000 entrepreneurs each year. Their challenge is that they are inundated with demand from local small entrepreneurs for actual business premises. Thus, an Entrepreneur Container Village has been established to meet that need. Plans are also in place to expand beyond the few containers already on the site to create an entrepreneurial, multi-use development that will house local businesses and entrepreneurs, an event and entertainment centre along with sports, conference and educational facilities.
Cape Town’s challenges will not all be solved overnight, but the City of Cape Town municipality is working hard to prioritise projects that will deliver a better way of life for its citizens.