As a budding metro, Mangaung continues to derive inspiration from its outlook into the future as encapsulated in the vision of the city, which reads: “A globally safe city to live, work and invest in”.
Key to our performance as a city has been our ability over the past few financial years to have stabilised the financial position of the metro. We have laid a solid foundation for financial sustainability and are financing most of our expenditure. We have increased our revenue collection rate to about 93.1%. Confronted with the ever-growing challenges of backlogs, inequality, poverty and skewed spatial development and the vastness of our rural villages, forward planning in relation to how we deliver on our capital projects through the implementation of the Capital Project Procurement Plan and the monitoring thereof, has ensured that we improve our capital spending from 70% to about 83%, and maintain this upward trend as we will be striving towards achieving the set target of 95%.
We have further improved the alignment between the city council’s priorities and the service delivery targets as espoused in the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan. This has ensured that we allocate our resources such that they address what the city council deems to be priorities and urgent. In this manner, the expansion of our bulk infrastructure for water and sanitation is at the apex of our prioritised expenditure, to deal with the sanitation backlogs but also to ensure water security into the future.
The metro has committed to eradicating sanitation backlogs within six years and, in support of this, has committed to building seven new reservoirs. Of these, two have already been completed at Longridge and Naval Hill respectively. The Sterkwater Waste Water Treatment Work capacity has been doubled from 10-million litres to 20-million litres. Critically, the expanded capacity will accommodate new development in the City, such as Hillside View Development, Vista Park, Lourier Park and Rocklands. The New Eastern Waste Water Treatment Works adjacent to the N8 Corridor Development will be commissioned by January 2015 to unlock development of the Airport Development Node, that will help to create a new city. The City continues to successfully implement water demand management and the result by the end of June 2014 was the reduction on the non-revenue water to 31%. This translated into a saving of R30-million. Over 39 900 inhabitants have been registered as indigents and they are receiving a basket of free services comprised of water, electricity, refuse removal, and rebates on rates and taxes. In total, each indigent receives a subsidy of these services worth R230 a month. In Mangaung, 94.54% of formal households have access to a functioning basic water supply. The metro has thus far ensured that over 195 740 of formal households across the municipality have access to electricity, including 1892 newly electrified households in the city.
The city has identified seven strategically located parcels of land for mixed development, of which three are already undergoing developments. These include Vista Park 2 and 3 as well as Hillside View. These developments are in line with the city’s vision of providing decent housing opportunities to the gap market, as well as catering for mixed housing developments as catalyst for integration. Further housing opportunities are provided through the newly renovated and expanded rental stock of the city, the Brandwag development.
To reposition the city as a destination for potential investors, the City has also embarked on massive land development around the airport (the Airport Development Node) to ignite developments in the N8 corridor. Already, installation of service reticulation is under way. Once completed, the development will cater for opportunities in light industries, commercial space, hospitality and international conferencing facilities as well as mixed housing developments. Eight parcels of land have been purchased by the city for the development of the Botshabelo and Thaba `Nchu nodes. The development of the Botshabelo and Thaba `Nchu nodes is intended to ease an over-reliance on Bloemfontein as a commercial centre but also to bring renewal, development and economic opportunities to other regions of the municipality. This will further see the escalation of the city’s efforts to deal with rural development and the establishment of rural enterprises to ensure that our rural villages become vibrant and significant contributors to the economy in the long run.
The Metro is at an advanced stage of finalising the business plan for the implementation of an Integrated Public Transport Network, which will see the city introduce public transportation system in the mould of what major cities — both locally and internationally — are implementing. This initiative is intended to streamline all modes of transport into complementing one another and incorporates both non-motorised transportation and the pedestrianisation of the city. This will assist in providing affordable and safe public transport to ferry citizens to economic opportunities and contribute towards dealing with inherited spatial distortions.
The metro has shown serious keenness in ensuring that Mangaung claims its fair share of the increasing market share in the ever-growing tourism sector by developing Naval Hill into one of the prime tourist attractions in our metro and country at large. Boasting viewing platforms, the second tallest statue of our icon Madiba and, most importantly, hosting the only digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa, the latest development in the Naval Hill Masterplan has seen the completion of a restaurant atop this facility.
To augment these catalytic projects, the Metro has also prioritised and rehabilitated 15 different sporting amenities in the past financial year. These included the rehabilitation of Free State Stadium and Heidedal swimming pools, a new community hall at Section N,
Botshabelo, and upgrading the boxing arena. This is in line with positioning the city as a sporting mecca, while at the same time providing quality recreational facilities to our people and thus laying a foundation for an inclusive city.
The designs into the new facility for the zoo have been approved and soon bids will be invited for potential service providers to build this unique facility, which will see the zoo being relocated to Kwaggafontein. Construction of a regional park at Thaba ‘Nchu is gaining traction. Sporting facilities, an amphitheater, perimetre fencing, landscaping and play areas for children have been constructed as part of phase 1. This facility will cater for the recreational, environmental and educational needs of our communities.
A new disaster management centre has been built and the metro, through the centre, will provide effective and efficient emergency services. A clothing bank to support the poor has been established in partnership with the private sector.
The City is on course in consolidating the implementation of the Audit Action plan to respond comprehensively to the auditor general’s queries. The result last year was a progressive improvement in the audit outcome of the City.
The City and its entities obtained a qualified audit outcome, but significantly reduced qualified matters from 14 to four — and we are on course of obtaining a better audit outcome.
Over 10km of roads have been tarred and 36km of pedestrian walkways have been constructed in the past financial year, but the eradication of road and storm-water backlogs remains a challenge to be tackled in the medium to long term.
This article forms part of a larger supplement which can be found here. The supplement has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian’s advertisers and the content has been signed off by the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality or the advertiser.