Towards clean, attractive and well maintained metropolitan cities: a case study of Ethekwini municipality.
MetadataShow full item record
Numerous cities around the world encounter challenges with urban degeneration, especially those related to dilapidated buildings, dumping and littering. The African continent and South Africa, in particular, have had many challenges triggering urban degeneration over the years. The end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994, resulted in an influx of people into the main city centres of municipalities, largely with expectations of job opportunities; access to basic services; financial, economic and social opportunities, and access to urban living quarters. Municipalities, however, have limited budgets and resources to fully cater for the burgeoning needs of the population. Municipal mandates are predominantly focused on the delivery of basic services, including housing, water and sanitation, and electricity; regrettably, cleaning up the environment and maintaining infrastructure are not a priority. Taking into consideration these circumstances, the study examines the ways, in which metropolitan municipalities address dilapidated buildings, dumping, littering, damaged infrastructure, unkempt neighbourhoods, and ultimately, urban degeneration, within the context of the eThekwini Municipality. EThekwini Municipality is the third-largest metropolitan city in South Africa, and the largest city within the KwaZulu-Natal Province. This study concentrates on three wards within the inner-city of Durban, which is the main Central Business District of eThekwini Municipality. The inner-city was purposively selected, as it provided a combination of residential, business and tourism areas and has experienced many challenges related to urban degeneration. The research strategy used in this study was a descriptive, mixed methods, convergent design case study approach. Converging data from both qualitative and quantitative processes provided a holistic approach to the study. Quantitative data was obtained from questionnaires interviews with respondents as well as from the secondary analysis of data obtained from the municipality. The latter included data from call-logging of faults from the eThekwini Area Based Management Unit; media data from mainstream and local newspapers and radio stations; fines issued by the municipality on littering and dumping; municipal reports on inner-city projects and programmes; relevant legislation and the Municipal Services and Living Condition Survey questions on the cleanliness of the city. Qualitative data was extracted from semi-structured interviews and survey questionnaires administered to councillors, management, ward committee members and external respondents from the hospitality/entertainment industry. The study involved a critical analysis of the projects and programmes of the eThekwini Municipality, which is a metropolitan located within South Africa, and diagnosed that the objectives of keeping the city clean, attractive and well-maintained, cannot be accomplished in an unsystematic manner. The strategies, programmes and projects which are currently in place within the municipality, have only touched the surface of a well-intended vision of ‘A caring and liveable city’. Many of the projects are fashioned on international best practices but fail within the African context. The study contends that emphasis on crucial and basic issues will inspire the regeneration of the inner-city spaces and infrastructure in a sustainable manner. The study identified that many of the challenges, which have resulted in the increasing rate of degeneration, arise from ineffective regulations and enforcement; outdated service levels and monitoring; the lack of education initiatives for employees and the public; ineffective leadership and governance; the lack of involvement of the public and business in keeping the city clean and well-maintained, and most importantly, the lack of patriotic behavior patterns of citizens, mostly arising as a result of the history of the country. The key recommendations for municipalities, identified through the study, include ensuring an integrated strategic plan for urban regeneration within a proactive policy environment; increasing resources dedicated to waste management; implementing enforcement and consequence management strategies; stimulating change in behavior patterns of citizens, business, as well as municipal employees; empowering communities through effective communication and technological tools, with ongoing awareness and education sessions, and ensuring an effective performance management, and monitoring and evaluation process. An ‘Integrative Transformative Model’, focusing on the assimilation of various core processes and identifying key role-players who have a common understanding of the outcomes of the actions directed towards regeneration, is offered as a panacea for a clean, well-maintained and attractive city.