On the Road to Recovery?

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The news that The City of Johannesburg plans to spend approximately R2-billion on rebuilding and upgrading the road infrastructure in Johannesburg has been widely welcomed by those who have to navigate the road systems that in many cases are not only way past their sell-by date, but are in such a state of disrepair that avoiding potholes has become an irritating pastime.

Ronald Ennik, CEO Ennik Estates, perhaps said it best when he noted that if Johannesburg residential property was a share market, home prices would be rallying on the news.

The mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, noted that poor roads were adding to traffic congestion and that improving the road system was going to take more than a quick-fix, by simply filling in potholes.

To this end, the City intends taking a comprehensive approach to upgrading the road system. The best news is that the initial phase of the project is already underway and this will upgrade 400 kilometres of roads in the city during the current financial year. A budget of R100-million has been allocated for this.

Ennik says homeowners in and around the business districts of Sandton and Rosebank will be particularly pleased at the news that appeared in the Saturday Star that roads in their areas – not least the M1 and M2 motorways and other key arterial roads – will be a major focus of the renewal programme announced by the Mayor.

“The announcement is particularly welcome given the serious weekday peak-hour gridlock that has taken hold in key areas north of the City as commercial development and redevelopment continues to outpace infrastructural maintenance and expansion,” says Ennik.

It is also encouraging, he adds, that Mayor Tau reportedly singled out for special attention the perennial pothole problem – on which Johannesburg will be spending almost R80-million on patching and fixing cracks.

“In May this year I warned that ongoing poor maintenance of Johannesburg’s decaying suburban road infrastructure posed a real threat to the city’s residential property values – particularly in prime areas where, ironically, the highest municipal rates are paid.”

He has an excellent point. It is pretty obvious that buyers, particularly those interested in buying property in a high-end suburb are going to think twice before putting pen to paper if the surrounding infrastructure is below par. After all what is the point of investing millions in a home when the surrounds have been left to go to rack and ruin.

“The fact remains that even the most astute of buyers who visit homes on roads blemished by potholes, broken and blocked kerb inlets, and poorly-constructed pavements – or, worse, no pavements – subliminally devalue the property before they even get to look at it, let alone make an offer,” says Ennik.

“By turning this problem around, Jo’burg City will be restoring lost value to many individual streets, and even entire suburbs, that have become ‘marked down’ as a result of past poor delivery on road maintenance and development.

While the on-going roadworks are going to bring their own set of problems like traffic jams and longer commuting times, motorists should bear the final result in mind when caught up in traffic. The improvements may have been a long time coming, but the outcome is surely going to be worth the wait.

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