The city’s MMC for infrastructure, Nico de Jager, on Thursday said there would be increased capacity behind the city departments that handled applications from businesses to focus on improving time frames and make it a more attractive investment destination.
De Jager told a Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) breakfast that a further R400 million had been allocated in the city’s adjusted budget to begin refurbishing buildings in the inner city to make it an attractive place to live and work.
“To grow our economy from 2 percent to 5 percent and create employment opportunities for the 900 000 unemployed people in our city is going to be a proverbial mountain to climb, but we are going to do it,” he said.
De Jager said the new administration inherited a housing backlog of more than 300 000 units, with many projects partially completed and unallocated.
“In the adjustment budget we have been able to ensure that 1841 houses will be completed by the end of July. We have allocated an additional R38 million to capacitate our anti-corruption initiative led by General Shadrack Sibiya,” he said.
De Jager said the city had a R171 billion unfunded infrastructure backlog, while a R70 billion backlog had emerged in the city’s electricity infrastructure. He said the new administration had changed the approach to the city to focus on basic local government and bread-and-butter service delivery issues rather than the vanity projects of the previous administration.
Enormous amounts of money had been spent on these vanity projects, such as solar powered bakeries to bake bread with mango flour, mushroom farms and projects to make paper from stone, while key functions of local government were under prioritised, he said.
Lynne Pretorius, the president of Cesa, said the association would this year focus on transforming its membership and the industry.
Pretorius said that of the 533 firms on Cesa’s current database, only 122 firms were black-owned, with this ownership less than 51 percent at present.
She added the percentage of women engineering staff employed by Cesa members accounted for between 4 percent and 6 percent of total consulting engineering professionals and black women made up about 12 percent of this group.
Pretorius said Cesa’s interventions to drive real and sustainable transformation would include developing a pipeline of engineering professionals over the long term by identifying and then supporting learners with a technical aptitude at secondary school level.
Cesa would also consolidate efforts to create and implement a process to support tertiary engineering students and mentor graduate engineering staff in the workplace and had identified a host of potential support programmes for small, medium and micro enterprises.