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SAPOA and the City of Johannesburg Join Forces

Concerns surrounding the communication and relationship between the public and private sector are diminishing as both parties are becoming more actively involved with one another, engaging in meaningful dialogue and working together on improving business and infrastructure in South Africa.

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L to R: Neil Gopal (CEO of SAPOA); City of Johannesburg’s Honourable Mayor Mpho Parks Tau and Estienne de Klerk (President of SAPOA and director of Growthpoint Properties)

In light of this, the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) hosted an auspicious Meet the Mayor dinner on 21 November 2013 at the Vilamoura Restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg which was well attended by several top CEOs and key role players of the property industry.

The Gauteng Meet the Mayor dinner was attended by the City of Johannesburg’s Honourable Mayor Mpho Parks Tau. SAPOA CEO Neil Gopal, current SAPOA President Estienne de Klerk, as well as Immediate Past President, Dr Sedise Moseneke were also in attendance.

The dinner shed some light on several leading topics and goals including the future plans of infrastructure development in the City, current challenges and possible solutions, as well as the way forward. Most importantly, the dinner served as a platform to further forge the relationship between the property sector and local government.

The evening was facilitated by Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) of Planning Roslynn Greeff who in-between the speeches and presentations provided intriguing insight on future investment in the City. It was noted that Johannesburg is currently leading in terms of commercial property investment, and that over the next 10 years R110 billion will be invested in the City in terms of infrastructure upgrades as well as new infrastructure development.

In his opening address, Director of Growthpoint Properties and SAPOA President Estienne de Klerk highlighted the role that the private sector plays as well as the efforts made thus far by SAPOA. De Klerk is concerned about increased municipal rates as well as the correct levying of rates.

De Klerk mentioned that roughly 70% of the overall rates and taxes bill is paid by the property sector, and thus it is this sector that is mostly affected by increases namely through inflation. By improving the relationship and communiqué between government and the property industry, such issues can be alleviated said de Klerk.

Director of iProp Pty Ltd and past Chair of the SAPOA Developers Committee Richard Bennet presented an insightful presentation on SAPOA’s achievements as well as the importance of the relationship between business and municipality.

Honourable Mayor Parks Tau addressed the City’s many issues including ageing infrastructure, damaged roads, faulty traffic lights, hygiene problems, and high electricity costs. Mayor Tau presented solutions to these burning issues, namely the roll out of extensive road resurfacing, improved traffic light systems, further infrastructure development, as well as pre-paid electricity metering and the implementation of alternative sources of energy.

One of the biggest issues that the City faces is the fragmentation of populations and industries. “The reality of Johannesburg as well as all other cities in the country is the isolation of certain communities, race groups, and sectors. This is not how efficient cities work,” said Mayor Tau.

To correct this problem, the City of Johannesburg has identified six important Corridors of Freedom. Currently, the City is working on three of the six – the Louis Botha, Empire/Perth, and Turffontein corridors. Developed on the backbone of transit-orientated systems, these corridors will boast increased densities and integration as well as mixed developments.

Mayor Tau noted that one of the biggest flaws is the communication between government and all role players. “What we haven’t done well is the communication of policy with all stakeholders. Part of government’s success is due to the partnership with private business. This is only the beginning of the conversation,” he said.

The challenge now for the City is to successfully attracted corporate into new areas of development and investment. Furthermore, the efficiency of public transport needs to be improved and the issue around rates and taxes needs to be dealt with.

In his closing remarks, Gopal highlighted that the relationship between SAPOA and the City is definitely growing and that together, the public and private sectors can achieve more.

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