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Monday Jan 30, 2012

Giant truck a symbol of Joburg inner-city renewal

She really is a giant, an artwork in the inner city that you can't miss. She has stood in the same spot for a few months now.

The giant iron ire truck on a street corner of the South Western Improvement District.

People have been walking and driving past, wondering what she is doing there, parked on the corner of Usher and Ntemi Piliso streets in the Johannesburg city centre.

You wouldn't, after all, expect a monster, yellow truck at least two office floors high to make itself home on a rundown corner of the inner city.

But it is for this very reason that the number 10 unit righaul truck has been placed opposite the Westgate transport hub.

Number 10 is the newest member of the "street furniture" that has been placed around streets in the southwestern quadrant of the inner city as part of an urban-renewal project to reverse urban decay.

The idea of bringing a giant iron ore truck and parking it off on a street corner was conceptualised by the South Western Improvement District, a voluntary organisation made up of businesses in the area.

They have decided to beautify their section of town and bring people and business back to the area.

Because many of the mining houses, the Chamber of Mines and the National Union of Mineworkers are situated along and near Main Street, it was decided to bring the history of the mines to people who walk the streets in and around the area.

Jeannette Hofsajer-van Wyk, who heads the chamber's information services, said that placing these mining-related artefacts in the public domain allowed ordinary people to interact with mining symbols.

The district said it had asked Anglo American's Kumba Iron Ore if it had a retired truck to donate to the project.

Kumba CEO Chris Griffith said No 10, a 125-ton truck, had worked in their Sishen mine in the Northern Cape for two decades.

The 125-ton trucks are now retired and the mine uses 350ton haul trucks – double the size of No 10.

Moving the truck from its Northern Cape home had not been an easy task.

Griffith said it had taken six days, and No 10 had to be dismantled into two parts – first the wheels, then the skip on top – and placed on large haul trucks that had to manoeuvre through Johannesburg's busy streets.

Cranes then lifted the two parts and placed them in their final home.

Starting next month, some of the old buildings opposite the truck will be torn down to make way for a multibillionrand development called Stimela Square.

Daily News

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