Joburg City crisis - a reality that can no longer be ignored

The recent spate of serious events in Johannesburg CBD – including the tragic fire in Marshalltown that has claimed 77 lives and the devastating gas leaks in De Korte and Bree Streets – continue to raise concerns over poor urban management, lack of by-law enforcement and inadequate governance within the CBD. 

Urban TUHF building in Joburg CBD
TUHF building in Joburg CBD (Image: Supplied)

Paul Jackson, CEO of TUHF, says: “Though the media coverage of these devastating events draws a much-needed spotlight towards the challenges faced in the inner city of downtown Johannesburg, these events are regrettably not isolated and in fact are a consequence of a much longer-standing issue. One that must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

As an invested stakeholder in the inner city for the last 20 years with more than R5 billion invested in the Johannesburg CBD, TUHF continues to actively engage with local government regarding the prevailing and underlying issues that have preceded these most recent headline events. “From the lack of service delivery, the increased scourge of hijacked buildings, damage to properties caused by the 2021 riots, xenophobic attacks and dangerously insufficient maintenance of infrastructure; we have relentlessly voiced our concerns and engaged with the local government to find solutions,” Jackson says. “There is an urgent need for improved management and intervention in the CBD to ensure the safety of the people who live here and the imperative growth of this vital economic hub, which is not achievable without local government action.”

TUHF is a leading impact investor in South Africa’s inner cities, and for 20 years has promoted the inner city of Johannesburg as an investment destination, particularly for ordinary South Africans. 

“Regeneration in the inner city has seen ordinary people, with street smarts and knowledge, turn rundown buildings into successful affordable rental housing businesses,” Jackson points out. “TUHF has empowered aspiring property entrepreneurs to create safe homes and jobs within the inner city and to make an impact on communities that live, work and play here. We remain committed to the property investors we support, and as such, we must call for urgent change in the way the Johannesburg CBD is being managed.”

TUHF is deeply saddened by the recent events in the Johannesburg CBD. Such incidents reflect a critical systemic issue which affects the capital markets, the insurance sector, rental housing suppliers and the tenants they serve. TUHF strongly advocates that this is an issue of lack of execution by City management. Urban management, compliance and administration must be improved as a matter of urgency to prevent further incidents from occurring. 

“The well-being of the residents and businesses in the CBD should be a top priority for the City,” Lusanda Netshitenzhe, CEO of TUHF21 says. “TUHF urges the City of Johannesburg to prioritise improved management and better governance of the inner city and to take concrete steps to address its deterioration. TUHF believes in the investment case of inner cities as essential to inclusive and transformative economic growth. Inner cities have the potential to drive real growth at a local level, provide economic opportunities to SMMEs and low to moderate income households.”

With the lives and livelihoods of so many people under threat in the CBD, TUHF calls on the City of Johannesburg’s leadership to take immediate action to address these urban management and investment infrastructure concerns. 

“We maintain that collaboration is essential to address the challenges that are apparent in Johannesburg,” says Netshitenzhe. “A coordinated and comprehensive approach is needed to restore confidence in the CBD for all the City’s stakeholders. This reality cannot be ignored any longer, and TUHF joins all invested stakeholders of the inner city in calling for urgent action and changes to the way the City is managed.  We are committed to collaborating with the City and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to the issues facing the CBD and believe that a united effort is essential to create a more prosperous City.”

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