Private sector gets involved in improving townships

Thomas McLachlan

Thomas McLachlan

A new project to increase the private sector's involvement in rejuvenating townships and improving the living standards for millions of South African shack-dwellers has been given a major boost in this year's budget.

"Our urban landscape is often described as dysfunctional with large townships far from city centres (and) far from places of work and leisure. This landscape will not change of its own accord. We will not be able to reshape our cities, integrate our townships (and) create residential communities unless we intervene (and) unless we act decisively," Manuel said.

Allocations to muni-cipalities for the design of partnership projects and for co-financing the construction of new and better community facilities shot up to R950million this year, from last year's R50 million, and this is expected to increase to R1,5billion in 2008.

"The Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant has already allocated mo-ney for technical assistance to upgrade Bara Central in Soweto, Njoli Square in KwaZakhele, Ngangelizwe in Mtha-tha," Manuel said, adding that future planned interventions included eThekwini Bridge City and KwaMashu town centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

The partnership grant forms part of the expanded public works programme, aimed at drawing marginalised communities into the second economy.

It is also in line with the overall intention by South African cities to eradicate shack-dwellings in townships by 2014 and follows government's upgrade projects of city centres such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.