Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said his vision of turning the city into a construction site is closer than expected as the announcement of three buildings taken up by winning bidders in the private sector was scheduled to be announced on Thursday.
Mashaba said the issue of abandoned and hijacked buildings was a huge challenge for the city and part of the “inner city plan” was to focus on reclaiming the city and providing affordable accommodation for residents.
“In the process, we have identified over 500 [hijacked and abandoned] buildings and as I speak to you there are 84 buildings out there that are on tender,” he said. “We are asking and inviting the private sector to join us in building affordable accommodation for our people.
“Employ our people and train them in artisan skills.”
But to take back the city, Mashaba said, a pressing issue that needed to be dealt with first was that of undocumented foreign nationals.
“To get the private sector to build those buildings, we would have to find alternative accommodation for the people residing in them.
“We can do it for everyone but we cannot provide accommodation to undocumented migrants living in them,” he said. “We are calling on everyone around the world who wishes to invest in our country and city to go to the nearest home affairs branch offices.”
He also announced that a successful meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs Siyabonga Cwele last week meant they were a step closer to dealing with immigration issues as the department was committed to taking on its responsibility to assist the city.
“I was told this was a pipe dream, it would never happen,” said Mashaba. “It has been tried before and it won’t work, I was told.
“But through my determination, I committed to the dream of turning this city into a construction site, so I am very excited to be announcing the winning bidders of three of the 84 buildings on tender this Thursday, when we will give more details on the project.”