Understanding Philippi with the help of a view from above

PEDI was pleased to be invited to the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunity of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament to make a presentation on the work we are doing in Philippi. CEO Thomas Swana discussed how much socio-economic development can be achieved in the area if it is undertaken holistically.

The response to the presentation content was overwhelming and the WCPP requested a tour of the Philippi area. This is a summary of the CEO’s presentation:

The mainspring for economic activity in Philippi is centred around four key industrial sectors, namely:

  • Agriculture and the PHA, with resulting opportunities for agri-processing
  • Waste recycling
  • Transport
  • Construction

We need to be mindful of the social and economic attributes of each of these — including what the strategic importance of the PHA is for the City and Province’s challenges of food and water security — and how all these sectors contribute to new business development, job creation, new skills development, employment, health, education, and poverty eradication, among others.

To realise the full value of the Philippi area’s potential we must examine all these sectors together so that we stimulate sustained social and economic activity that benefits all stakeholders, including the public sector, business, the private sector and the community itself.

Analysing components one at a time prevents the development of a holistic view of the whole which can allow us to understand how they connect and how they can provide impetus for each other.

This is why I need to invite you to get into a metaphorical helicopter with me — one can’t see these four sectors and stakeholder communities working together if we stay at ground level.

Before we take off:

If you look at the PHA at ground level you can’t see the residential and industrial elements as you head east from the PHA toward the Philippi East Industrial Area. Likewise, if you are standing in Philippi East on the corner of New Eisleben and Govan Mbeki, you can’t see the PHA. Neither can you see the corner of Govan Mbeki and Stock Road, or the corner of Stock Road and Sheffield Road or the corner of Sheffield Road and New Eisleben, or the connection between this block and the N2, or the connections of Philippi East to the R300 and the Cape Town International Airport. The transport systems are road, rail and air based. They all exist already, and while they cannot be seen, are all about to explode with planned expansion.

These connected components create a tapestry of opportunity that is not being seen as it should be – for its economic and social value and benefits. We have to start somewhere at ground level… so perhaps let’s start at the airport with our helicopter view.

Let’s go to 100m:
Here we can see all of Philippi East and the airport together. There’s Teguka Industrial Park, Marikana (Yes… we didn’t see that coming and there is enormous risk that other invasions can happen), the Joe Qabi long distance bus transport interchange, The Philippi Fresh Produce Market for emerging farmers (which was built at a cost R28 million over 12 years ago and has never serviced any — not one — emerging farmer). Behind the PFPM is Waste 2 Food and the PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy. Just to the north of the PFPM there is vacant land, which is industrially zoned, serviced and the cheapest industrial land in Cape Town.

Now let’s refer to ECAMP — the CoCT’s Economic Area Management Plan which places Philippi in the “Opportunity Development Sector” in light of all the catalytic projects being initiated in and around the area.

What are all these road works on the N2 and Stock Road? These are being driven by ECAMP information.

Let’s go up to 200 metres:
There is Philippi Village and there is a large sign saying the new Junction Mall will start in 2017 — ground has already been broken for construction to commence in January of 2018.

Apparently the City’s largest MyCiti bus terminuses are going to be located somewhere in the areas we can see — on the New Eisleben, Sheffield, Stock and Govan Mbeki Roads (“The Philippi Block”) … all this development due in the next 5 years.

Let’s go to 1000 metres:
Now we see all the agriculture activity to the west, but only half looks like it is being farmed, and that in patches. But look at how much is being farmed in the other half —and look at all the surface water! We are acutely aware of our drought conditions. Yet, where is all that water coming from? There are 3 600  people working in the PHA and they are producing 150 000 tons of produce every year, but only on half the land.

How many more could be working and how much more food could we actually produce if we did something to farm the rest, using some slightly more modern technology, such as that being used at the PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy. If instead we choose to build residential, commercial or industrial infrastructure on the PHA, we risk reducing the production of food and produce for the Cape Town population.

We risk losing the bulk water supply opportunities that the PHA offers. There is an argument that the City’s urgent housing need places a premium on development of a residential component in the PHA. But this choice would see the people who currently live there, as well as those in the rest of the city, having to pay more for food. They would also lose the increased job opportunities that can be harnessed through agriculture and agri-processing. They would also lose the all-important resource of the Aquifer. The food we consume in the centre of Cape Town would have to be brought to the city from other parts of the country, or imported. If we grow more food using the space available in the PHA, we could actually export food that is not required for local consumption. Preserving the PHA creates opportunity for Cape Town and its people. Building on the PHA creates liability for the Cape Town and the environment.

At this helicopter height we can see all of Browns Farm, Sweet Home Farm, Samora Machel and all the other Philippi township areas. Almost 400 000 people reside in these areas. According to a report prepared for PEDI by DEMACON, if this were to be rebuilt it would cut back on Cape Town’s housing backlog by 40%.

If the township areas here were systematically redeveloped using the principles of Transit Orientated Development, with 2 and 3 storey buildings to improve densification, this area would go a long way to providing the space the city needs to accommodate the building of houses.

From here we can also see the closeness of the PHA to the Philippi East Industrial area. People living in the townships in between these two economic nodes would have easy access to both areas for business and employment opportunities.

We can also see the link to the airport and how central all this is to the greater Cape Town area.

We can also how see 6 out of the 16 MyCiti bus routes will converge in Philippi East, linking this area and spreading out to the CBD and all other parts of the City.

We can also see how the passenger rail provides access from here to all parts of Cape Town.

We can also see how the N2 / Borcherd’s Quarry interchange will work to provide access to both the airport and Philippi

Now we can actually see the big picture and how much sense it would make to improve our focus and resources to protect and improve on what we have.

Now we can see the strategic nature of how all these components can work together and how important the PHA is for driving the potential end-state which we anticipate will become apparent from the study into the value of the PHA being conducted for the Provincial Department of Agriculture.

If we are to harness maximum benefit from the PHA, we need to protect it and start paying attention to the abuse which we have allowed for so long, such as illegal dumping contaminating the rivers leading to the northern portions, crime, poor farming practices and the creep of informality in many parts.

The summary from the DEMACON report (download this report from the PEDI website), shows the extensive potential of the Philippi area and the progress which has taken place since it was published in 2014.

PEDI continues to be a stakeholder in the plans to integrate infrastructure development for the MyCiti programme with a strategy for integration and development of formal and informal trading. PEDI is currently engaged in drafting a master strategy for informal trading in Philippi, which is to be developed this year.

PEDI urges sustained focus on developing an integrated transversal team representing the Province and the City to make Philippi, its residents and the PHA reach its full potential.


The Philippi Tour

The Philippi tour by members of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and the National Council Of Provinces was a follow up on the presentation PEDI made to the WCPP.

PEDI was asked to repeat the presentation made earlier to the WCPP in order for the NCOP to get a first hand understanding of the enormous economic potential of the Philippi area, as seen through the lens of the PEDI macro- and micro-visioning of the area.

PEDI shared the podium with the DoA and the ACSA to emphasise the development potential of the Philippi area if a coordinated approach is undertaken. Following the presentations, PEDI hosted the WCPP, NCOP, DoA and ACSA on a tour of Philippi and the PUAA.

The response from the WCPP and NCOP delegates was once again overwhelmingly positive. PEDI is continuing discussions with the DoA, WCPP and the NCOP to progress the developments envisioned by PEDI.

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