Pretoria - Site identification is in process and occupation procedures being investigated in preparation for the establishment of the Tshwane Government Boulevard in the city centre.
The boulevard will provide a long-term solution for government head offices and agencies. It was conceived jointly by the City of Tshwane and the national Department of Public Works.
The boulevard is part of the Re Kgabisa Tshwane (We are enhancing Tshwane) project, estimated to cost as much as R11 billion over 25 years.
Lindiwe Kwele, Tshwane deputy city manager, said government boulevard would run predominantly along WF Nkomo Street. Key components will be wide streets, lanes for vehicles and pedestrians as well as grass, flowers and trees.
The initiative incorporates the Tshwane Ceremonial Boulevard on WF Nkomo, Helen Joseph and Stanza Bopape streets leading up to the Union Buildings. Kwele said the boulevard would create a platform for an expression of the national spirit, where events, celebrations, marches and festivals would be staged.
“Key to the precinct will be the use of public spaces, focusing on creating walkways and pedestrianising streets,” Kwele said. There were already several government departments in the precinct.
The choice of the precinct, therefore, made economic sense, Kwele said.
However, there were other departments that still needed to be located within potential development sites such as old buildings and vacant land. “We need to implement cabinet resolutions by getting all government departments to commit in terms of locating in the Government Boulevard,” said Kwele.
“Work is at an advanced stage in the national Treasury to get funding commitments and realign this project with the budget.”
Tshwane will provide the required urban design framework and street-scape guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the boulevard. Kwele said the city lacked a “wow factor” associated with the seat of government like other capital cities around the world.
“Looking down from the Union Buildings, there is nothing distinctive that says this is the capital city of South Africa,” she said. Apart from lacking a distinct architectural character that showed the symbolic nature of the capital, most of the buildings in the inner city were in a poor state.
Urban management interventions in the city required co-ordination, an informal economy that was managed better and enforcement of by-laws intensified, with improved traffic management to ease congestion, said Kwele. There had to be co-ordination of development initiatives by the metro, government, private sector and academic institutions, she said.
“Projects such as the bus rapid transit system are leading the way, but the remaking of the capital should start with planning and not be guided by transport infrastructure. Plan first and the rest will fall into place.”
The proposed ceremonial boulevard would have historical elements and landmarks such as Heroes Acres, Kruger House, Church Square, the Palace of Justice, Ou Raadsaal, Lilian Ngoyi Square, the State Theatre, the Reserve Bank and the Union Buildings. It has been the scene of various marches in the country’s history.
“Successful implementation of these projects will ultimately encourage a compact urban form which promotes alternative and healthy transportation choices such as walking, cycling and transit,” Kwele said.
It would also result in better use of municipal infrastructure and attraction of investments. “Over the longer term, this will foster a distinct community character that builds a brand and civic pride for the city and its neighbourhoods.”
Developments to remake the capital city as part of the Tshwane Vision 2055:
* Northern Gateway, the Paul Kruger Street region.
* Salvokop Precinct, including Freedom Park and the new Statistics SA head offices.
* Nelson Mandela Drive development.
* Apies River damming and upgrading.
* Nelson Mandela Public Art.
* Tshwane House.
* West Capital, encompassing Schubart Park
* Integrated public transport, including A Re Yeng as well as walking and cycling facilities.
* African Gateway in Centurion, incorporating the Tshwane International Convention Centre.
* Symbio City, also in Centurion, which encompass Centurion Lake.