The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) on Thursday honoured the contractors responsible for the R171-million upgrade of the previously neglected public areas of Hillbrow, Berea, and Yeoville in the inner city of Johannesburg.
The five contractors involved in the Hillbrow/Berea/Yeoville (HBY) project managed to complete it in the specified and extremely tight deadline of seven months, and within budget. The project was completed in July, and the JDA was now focused on the Doornfontein area.
The HBY public environment upgrade was the largest ever project designed and scoped, planned and delivered in one single financial year. The JDA was given the brief in August 2007 and was told it should be done by July 2008. “This project has been a breakthrough in terms of development,” enthused JDA CEO Lael Bethlehem.
The contractors involved were Kingsway, the Bophelong joint venture, Superway Construction, Nyoni Projects, and King Civil.
Bethlehem said the JDA was pleased with the quality of contractors, which responded to the agency’s tenders. “And of course, nothing can be achieved without the workers on the ground, taking care to deliver the project within the specifications, and under challenging circumstances,” she said in recognition of the many contract workers gathered to celebrate their work.
The scope of work included the upgrade of 220 city blocks, and entailed the new paving; landscaping including the planting of many trees; street lighting; street furniture; storm water drains; litter bins; and public toilets.
A major boost to the quality of life for many in the area was also the upgrade of five parks, including the Pieter Roos Park, the Alec Gorshell park, Le Roith park, JL de Villiers park, and the Donald Mackay park.
All contractors commended the professionalism of the JDA in overseeing the HBY project.
The HBY project was considered the “first fruits” of the R300-million Inner City fund established by City of Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo. The fund stretched over five years and was put in place to address infrastructure problems in the inner city.
The JDA hoped, through its public environment upgrades, to attract investment into the inner city, and hoped private property owners and retailers would be encouraged and inspired to renovate their own shops and residences. The JDA affirmed that since completion of the project, a number of private investments have been unlocked.
“The City of Joburg wants to ensure that no place in Johannesburg can be abandoned and allowed to decline. The City takes pride in every inch of this great city, and is determined that every block should receive attention, and be a home, where people can live full lives and prosper,” Bethlehem concluded.
The challenge now, was that the relevant utilities, such as City Power and Johannesburg Water, take these upgraded assets forward, and maintain them properly.
A major part of the project was the transfer of skills to the local community. More than 1 500 jobs were created by this project.
“Our company hired a large number of labourers from the local community, and 50% of those people are now permanent staff within our company,” stated Kingsway director Yusuf Alibhai.
“The JDA ensured contractors were skilled before the project even started, and labourers were skilled in areas such as curb laying and basic concrete works,” added Bophelong Construction MD James Popper.