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Monday Jun 04, 2012

Leaders aim to create a new-look Tshwane

Tshwane's municipal leaders have big plans for the city. This was the commitment made by city manager Jason Ngobeni in the build-up to the Metropolitan Council's budget debate and confirmed by the executive mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, in his budget speech last week.

In a series of moves in partnership with the private sector, the council hopes to fast-track projects, some of which have been in the pipeline for years, and catapult the capital city's growth path.

In a radio interview with 702, Ngobeni pointed to a number of developments which would take back the city, "street by street".

Ramokgopa, in the budget, also identified a number of multi-million rand capital projects, including the rehabilitation of Centurion Lake as part of a larger Centurion SymbioCity project.

This project on 10ha of prime land near the Gautrain station, includes creating the tallest building in Africa - at 110 storeys high.

The proposed Centurion Symbio-City will feature two office towers, and include hotels, retail facilities, a convention centre and residential space.

The project could take anything up to eight years to complete.

The anchor of Tshwane's urban renewal, however, lies within the inner city, where plans include the pedestrianisation of Paul Kruger Street from Pretoria station all the way to the National Zoological Gardens.

This could start soon with an announcement on the blocks from Pretorius Street to Johannes Ramokhoase (Proes) Street through Church Square.

An important part of the plan to breathe new life into the city centre is the Lilian Ngoyi Square - a public open space which will integrate the State Theatre with the rest of the inner city.

Illegal taxi ranks and hawkers trading where they should not are being dealt with and safety features such as lighting and cameras would be introduced, Ngobeni said.

In the budget debate on Thursday, Ramokgopa gave the assurance that the idea of taking back the city streets was not to deprive taxi owners and hawkers of their livelihood.

But he too stressed the need for the people of Tshwane to feel safe in their own city.

This ties in with the appointment of a new metro chief, Steven Ngobeni, who wants to restore faith in the unit.

"We want to claim back our city and this is the way to go," said Ramokgopa at Ngobeni's inauguration on Friday.

The mayor's budget speech highlighted the social and technical infrastructure required to uplift Tshwane and encourage investment in the city.

A number of parcels of land have been identified, including the West Capital Precinct - a project which includes the implosion of the existing Kruger and Schubart Park flat towers, which were deemed unsafe, and replacing them with new housing for the poor and affordable accommodation for the capital's large student population.

Munitoria, which was partially damaged in a fire, will make way for an impressive new council headquarters called Tshwane House.

This is in keeping with the new and upgraded government department buildings which stretch from the DTI in Sunnyside to the OR Tambo campus of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation in Soutpansberg Road.

Pretoria News

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