If Gauteng wants to achieve its objective of becoming a global city region, government must partner with the private sector to deliver infrastructure, Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile told delegates at the Gauteng Infrastructure Funding Summit, in Midrand, this month.
He said collaboration between the various spheres of government and their agencies was imperative.
“We need to work together to build a globally competitive Gauteng city region. Although there are resources within the fiscus, we need to leverage private-sector funding into what we want to achieve, which is the development of megacities,” he said.
He noted that the province was still committed to, and focused on, pursuing the implementation of the National Development Plan, one of the main drivers for infrastructure development in the province.
“The province still provides opportunities for investments and growth; therefore, partnerships with investors can provide viable solutions [for] the development of Gauteng infrastructure,” he said.
Mashatile highlighted that R10-billion a year had been budgeted just for human settlements.
“Looking at all the plans we have, it is not enough,” he said.
He pointed out that, if the public and private sectors collaborated, infrastructure projects could be fast-tracked.
Mashatile pointed out that the funding the province was raising would not go solely towards housing programmes, but would be used for broad infrastructure development, including the development of roads and energy.
He noted that the Gauteng provincial government was focused on building new toll-free roads.
“I am not a fan of the e-toll system,” he stated.
“We also want to expand the Gautrain to Lanseria, Tshwane East and the south of Johannesburg to Soweto.
He said this would contribute to the development of integrated human settlements and a globally competitive city region.
He further stated that the provincial government was planning to build schools, health institutions, light industrial zones and retail outlets.
“We are going to ‘go big’ with these development programmes and we are actively moving away from small, sporadic projects; we are focused on building new megacities.”
Also speaking at the summit, United Cities and Local Government president Parks Tau stated that Gauteng’s comprehensive human settlements programme was focused on bringing about the benefits of urbanisation.
He noted that Gauteng was on an accelerated track towards spatial transformation, inclusive of economic growth and reduced inequality.
“Since 1994, we have made huge strides in the provision of basic services, lifting thousands of people out of poverty; however, despite the sizable gains in access to basic services, much is left to be done.
“Reversing the roots of spatial fragmentation and marginalisation remains one of the greatest challenges we face,” Tau said.
He added that high rates of unemployment and poverty were contributing to the rapid movement of people from rural to urban areas, putting enormous strain on municipalities that struggle to provide services to a growing population.
“Owing to inadequate planning in addressing the population inflow, cities face an increased number of unauthorised land invasions, informal settlements and the proliferation of backyard dwelling.”
He said this put even greater pressure on municipalities to redirect resources towards emergency accommodation and services, drawing away from planned bulk investment.