Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba Picture: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg - In a shock move during his acceptance speech on Tuesday, new mayor Herman Mashaba put the brakes on bicycle lanes and said there would be no co-operation with Sanral over e-tolls by the Joburg metro police.

Mashaba announced that the R70 million budgeted on bicycle lanes would not go ahead.

It was former mayor Parks Tau's dream to establish bicycle lanes around the city to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and to get people fit.

“When every road in Joburg is tarred, then maybe the city will again look at bicycle lanes,” said Mashaba.

He also raised the ante on the contentious Gauteng e-tolls saga, saying there would be no co-operation between the JMPD and Sanral and that there “would be no harassment of motorists about outstanding e-toll payments”.

However, the payment of e-tolls as it is a national project, and the JMPD does not have the power to issue fines for non-payment.

Another urgent step that Mashaba’s administration would be taking is reviewing the boards of all city-owned entities.

This, he said, would ensure that the entities have the skills and willingness to drive an agenda of bringing change that would create jobs, fight corruption and fast-track the delivery of better services to all.

He would also conduct a skills audit of the city's employees to ensure that all are properly qualified for the roles they are in.

“Gone are the days of cadre deployment and the appointment of friends and family,” he said.

To improve efficiency at the troubled Pikitup and ensure that the filth in the inner city was cleared regularly, Mashaba said Pikitup had been instructed to double its shifts.

“With last week's removal of the managing director of Pikitup, the focus now turns to stabilising and strengthening this entity. The normal 135 weekly refuse collection rounds have been restored at all 12 depots, as well as street sweeping and litter picking.

“There is a massive backlog in clearing waste at the 2 080 illegal dumping sites. In conjunction with the JMPD, the city would begin a process of by-law enforcement at these illegal dumping sites,” he said.

Regarding the shortage of water, Mashaba promised that in the next three months the city would implement a “first-line response team” initiative, which entailed a dedicated team being dispatched to isolate water leaks and bursts within two hours of a major burst being reported.

He said Johannesburg Water would continue to roll out its pipe replacement programme, with 100km of water pipes targeted for replacement in the current year.

Active leak detection would be carried out daily by dedicated leak detection teams, he said.

These teams would survey 2 500km of the water reticulation infrastructure to ensure all leaks were reported and repaired to reduce water losses.

Mashaba made further promises, but appealed for patience.

“There is no quick fix for the years of mismanagement that have resulted in the failures of our city. We need to start from basics and step by step build a city we can all be proud to call home,” he said.

Mashaba reassured all Joburg residents that under the DA-led council, the city would have a government for everyone.

“Now is not the time for political squabbles. The time for campaigning and politicking is over. We face great challenges that no party can confront on its own. Now is the time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and get working together,” he said.

Mashaba said job creation and small businesses would be the No 1 priority for the city in the DA-governed municipality.

“The biggest challenge facing our city is the soaring unemployment confronting more than 800 000 of our people. Almost one in three of our residents is without work, the youths of our city being the biggest casualties of this epidemic,” he said.

“We understand that the actual role of local government in job creation is to create an enabling environment for businesses to establish themselves, flourish, and thereby create permanent jobs. Because a job is a means to dignity and self-improvement in a way that can never be achieved by a social grant.”

Mashaba’s promises

* Facilitate the revamping of empty and hijacked buildings by the private sector.

* Audit the buildings the city owns and see which can be converted into low-cost housing and affordable commercial spaces for small businesses and shops, and bring business and people back into the inner city.

* Ensure the JMPD intensifies efforts to enforce by-laws in the area and steps up visible policing.

* City Power has plans to protect substations from cable theft.

* In the first 100 days, 45km of roads will be resurfaced. Johannesburg Roads Agency tarring 12km of gravel roads in Protea, Lawley, Ivory Park, Bramfischerville and Tshepisong, and completing three bridges in Soweto between Mofolo Central and Dube along Nxumalo, Kinini-Leselinyana and Zulu-Mahalefele streets.

* Upgrading of informal settlements to provide decent services, including electricity.

* Stop deep-rooted corruption in the housing lists.

* Improve emergency medical services to ensure they adhere to the response times.

* A billing indaba will be held to address billing issues.

* Insourcing of services such as gardening, cleaning and security is being investigated.

* Stop corruption among JMPD officers, such as accepting bribes, as well as harassing of motorists.

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The Star