In view of the general economic, social and financial struggles amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Johannesburg Property Owners & Managers Association (JPOMA) on April 6 submitted a relief proposal to City of Johannesburg mayor Geoffrey Makhubo.
It suggested the need for a balanced pro-poor, pro-investment utility charge approach for the 2020/21 budget, stating that it would provide immediate and ongoing relief to poor households living in strategic high-density residential/mixed-use nodes.
The proposal recommended the immediate reinstatement of the free lifeline supply of 6 kℓ of free water, with no availability charge for all, or at least for all poor households residing in high-density areas.
Apart from the obvious need for water to survive, it is also vital for hygiene to combat the Covid-19 virus, the organisation emphasised.
It also recommended an at least 50% reduction in sewer charges for the poor residing in high-density residential units; no increases in water and electricity charges, especially in the first two utility category/blocks; rebates to property owners for administering utility charges on behalf of the city for about 60 000 inner-city units; and no increase in property rates in the current financial year.
“We applaud the work the City of Johannesburg has done over the past few weeks and the ongoing efforts in managing a city in lockdown. We now call on you, Mister Mayor, the Mayoral Committee and Executive Leadership of the City of Johannesburg and its utilities, agencies and entities to start developing a pragmatic plan to deal with the economic and financial impacts of this unfolding disaster,” said JPOMA chairperson Nic Barnes.
JPOMA believes the successful implementation of a relief plan will provide immediate and long-term results, such as creating a safety net for the poor, especially the vulnerable communities residing in high-density residential communities. As an example, it noted that there are more than 500 000 people living in the inner city.
Moreover, it believes it will strengthen an enabling environment for inner-city investment and economic development, which is required for sustaining city revenues, retaining housing stock and jobs, mitigating the severity of the impact on businesses, and providing a much-needed stimulus for the recovery of the vital residential market.
JPOMA noted that this was not a challenge that could be tackled by the City of Johannesburg alone.
As a member of the Covid-19 Inner City Task Team – along with other inner-city organisations such as the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership and the Forum of Integrated Risk Mitigation – JPOMA has volunteered its assistance.
Barnes said the proposal was also shared more broadly, most notably to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, in the hope that this is also prioritised on the agenda for national government, Treasury and Economic Development.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online