Statement of the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Cllr. Geoffrey Makhubo, on COVID-19 Lockdown

25 March 2020

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo, today, 25 March 2020, convened an urgent Mayoral Committee meeting as a response to the pronouncements of President Cyril Ramaphosa pertaining to the escalation of the government’s response to COVID-19.

As announced by the President, the nation will be on lockdown for 21 days, beginning at midnight on 26 March 2020 until 16 April 2020. The President’s announcement of a lockdown means we are charting new waters as country and as a City.

Gauteng, and to a great extent Johannesburg, has become the epicenter of this potentially deadly epidemic. The situation in which we find ourselves is serious and requires that we step up, in response to the marching orders of the President, with urgency.

The City’s approach on COVID-19 is one that seeks to prevent, contain and manage the spread of the virus through efficient and equitable deployment of resources to regions and the most vulnerable areas, particularly areas of high volumes in human traffic and informal and densely populated settlements.

To this end, building on interventions announced on 18 March 2020, the City has taken further measures to ensure compliance with the declared state of national disaster and lockdown.

The City’s various entities and departments have set systems in place to ensure that essential services continue as per the President’s marching orders, and that we have continuity of services as we escalate the City’s fight against COVID-19.

Waste Removal

Waste removal has been classified as an essential service. Without hesitation, Pikitup will continue with operations and efforts are being made to ramp up frequency of collection during the lockdown period.

Water and Electricity

City Power and Johannesburg Water will continue operations whilst ensuring that they protect and minimize the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic to our workforce and residents of Johannesburg by implementing the following:

• All scheduled maintenance and planned interruptions in services are suspended. This is to release all available operations teams to effective management of unplanned and emergency interruptions over the lockdown period.

• As previously announced, four hundred (400) water tanks will be strategically located at various locations with vulnerable communities in the City to ease the burden of access to water and water tankers will be dispatched to unserved communities and informal settlements.

• We have also directed that the frequency for desludging chemical toilets located within informal settlements be increased from the current rate of twice a week to three times a week.

• Residents who are on the Expanded Social Package (ESP) will continue to get water until the lockdown is over and they are able to renew the service at the nearest customer centre.

Transport

Metro Bus and Rea-Vaya bus services are to further scale down operations while ensuring the availability of buses especially for those essential services staff needing to get to work.

As from Friday, 27 March 2020, Metrobus will be running 7 buses a day with 7 drivers weekly to rotate and 3 drivers will be on standby daily.

The intention will be to connect the following areas:

• Soweto to Sunninghill via Sandton, from 5am leaving Soweto in Protea returning at 16:30pm.

• Westrand, to Johannesburg CBD from 6am and 7am, returning at 12 noon and 17:30pm.

• Gandhi Square to Sandton, at 06:30 and 07:30, returning at 16:00 and 17:00.

• Rossetenville to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, from 06:00 and 07:00, returning at 12:00 noon and 17:00.

All buses will be sanitized once every 24-hours and washed twice a day. Sanitizers will be provided for commuters on buses as well as at ticket offices and depots.

Public Safety

All the City’s Licensing Centres will be closed down effective today, until further notice.

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), working together with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been directed to monitor and enforce strict adherence to the guidelines outlined by the President during the 21 days lockdown.

Our Disaster Management Centre remains in place and will be monitoring the implementation of our counter measures and response to cases reported and suspected cases.

Credit Control Measures

All water and electricity cuts across the City, as part of our credit control measures, are immediately suspended. All customers whose services have been disconnected (as of this announcement) in accordance with the credit management by-laws must still make the necessary arrangements, to ensure that water and electricity is restored, as these are necessary services in the effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“The above measures we are announcing are aimed at maintain the safety and resilience of the City. Again we emphasize, the call by the President for all persons, to as much as is possible, stay home and self-isolate. We also echo Minister Mkhize’s sentiments that it is not the medical teams alone that will contain and defeat the coronavirus but it is how we as residents and citizens behave in line with the guidance being provided.” concluded Mayor Makhubo.

The Department of Health and Social Development in the City will soon issue further information on operations at Clinics as per provincial directives and mitigation measures to support the homeless and elderly during this time.

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