Re-inventing Johannesburg As Africa’s ‘New York’

Re-inventing Johannesburg As Africa’s ‘New York’

A 10-year, $10 billion plan to spruce up Johannesburg, a city of 4.4 million people built on gold, will help turn Africa’s wealthiest city into the “New York of Africa,” authorities say, according to an Economic Times report.

Part of the goal is to correct some urban planning of the apartheid era, and undo some of its inequities which pushed black communities to the outskirts of the city and made transportation inefficient, the report said.

“Housing is the biggest challenge facing the city,” said Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau. “We can’t claim to be a world class African city when we still have people living in poor conditions.”

Business giants like the Johannesburg Stock Exchange left the once-thriving central business district for the northern suburb Sandton, now the continent’s richest square mile, according to Economic Times.

Tau wants new road and railroad networks, better houses and revamped buildings. This will lead to a “new era” for Johannesburg, he said.

Some of the funds will be used to enhance public transportation, enabling people in outlying areas to make connections by trains, buses, taxis and bicycle paths. In some cases, commuting between the city center and northern suburbs takes two hours, the report says.

The plan was inspired by New York City and its attractive bridges, roads and efficient subway network and parks.

“This is a major step in reversing the inequalities caused by the apartheid regime,” Tau told Economic Times.

A high-speed train launched three years ago linked Johannesburg and the administrative capital of Pretoria but prohibitive fares make it inaccessible to most of the working class, who rely instead on crowded private minibus taxis and ageing trains, the report said.

“The city is quite spread out and a lot of people use private cars. Less travel time and less cars on the road will also be good for the environment,” said Alison Todes of the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Architecture, as quoted in Economic Times.