The Johannesburg skyline. Picture: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg - Joburg’s Metrobus fleet will soon be running on grass cuttings from City Parks, waste from the Fresh Produce Market and fuel from specially grown bio crops, said mayor Parks Tau in his state of the city address in Orlando on Monday morning.

For the first time, the address was delivered in Soweto. After the inspection of the troops and wreath-laying in commemoration for fallen officers, the guests boarded the Rea Vaya buses to Orlando.

Parks said the city was expanding its dual-fuel fleet with 150 new buses and would help grow the bio crops used to produce the fuel. An additional 30 buses are to be converted to run on a mixture of compressed natural gas and diesel.

The dual-fuel buses, he said, were significantly cleaner than the diesel versions – emitting 90 percent less carbon emissions.

These efforts will extend to other public and private transport. “This will enable residents to use locally produced energy sources to power their vehicles, enabling them to pay less for fuel,” said Tau.

The diversion of waste from landfills is a priority. A total of 950 000 households will be included in the recycling programme being rolled out in Waterval, Zondi, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Central Camp, Marlboro and Southdale.

Speaking about the city’s finances, Tau said Joburg had redeemed R1.9 billion since entering the municipal bond market – including R900 million in the past 12 months.

“The city is financially in the best shape yet,” he said.

Joburg had a surplus of R3.4bn at the end of June and its assets had grown to R60.1bn.

The release of an unqualified report from the auditor-general is the strongest indication yet that the city’s governance is in good shape.

Tau also announced details about infrastructure on the next stage of the Rea Vaya network along Louis Botha and Katherine streets.

The plans include:

* An underground public transport interchange near the Wynberg Bridge.

* 31km of public environment upgrade in Alexandra.

* More than 5km of walking and cycling lanes – including a bridge over the M1 to improve access for those walking between Alexandra and the Sandton CBD daily.

* A second bridge over the M1 to accommodate the Rea Vaya bus lanes in Marlboro.

* A new transport system in Sandton to ensure integration between the Gautrain station, walking, cycling, Rea Vaya, minibus taxis and other bus services.

* A new bus depot in the inner city and Alexandra.

5 ways eGoli is greening:

The city is also conducting a green revolution through a range of initiatives designed to strengthen its ability to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

These include:

* 43 000 solar water heaters installed by City Power, which generate the equivalent of 22.5 gigawatt hours of electricity a year – enough to run a small town or part of a suburban area.

* The installation of 42 000 smart meters, geyser control systems and energy efficiency programmes will enhance energy efficiency.

* A second biogas-to-energy plant at wastewater treatment facilities at the Driefontein Works will be operational by next month.

* The replacement of 143km of water pipes as part of a three-year, 900km refurbishment programme is under way.

* A programme to design the “future energy mix” for the city has started. This will include greater use of gas, roof-top photovoltaic systems and other alternative energy sources.

The Star