Joburg municipality profiting from illegal billboards - DA

Christo Botes says MD of JPC has entered into R190m lease agreements with three companies


According to sources both within the outdoor advertising industry as well as within Council, The Managing Director of the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC), Ms. Helen Botes, has entered into lease agreements with at least three companies that are worth R190 million.  The lease agreements will allow these companies to extend the leases of current illegal and banned billboards which are currently erected on Council property.

This comes after the previous Member of the Mayoral Committee and now Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Councillor Parks Tau, informed Council at a meeting earlier in the year that the council intends to fund the city's liquidity crisis with the sale of council-owned properties and with rental income from outdoor advertising companies.

Councillor Christo Botes, DA Spokesperson for Development Planning and Urban Management, says the City has struggled with enforcing its own outdoor advertising by-laws for years now.  Illegal advertising billboards have been erected across the city and seem to be continuing unabated. These illegal billboards that blight the urban landscape, include those on the light poles on the M1 north and south, advertising signs on the on-and off ramps of the highways, gantries erected across the highways and other main roads, signs on traffic islands, and signs within close proximity of traffic signals and residential houses.  The decrepit blue and green bus shelters that are found across the city are also part of the illegal and expired lease agreements with the Council.

Reports that served at both the Mayoral and the Development Planning Committees in January 2011 highlighted at least 200 illegal billboards in the city.  The officials informed councillors at these meetings that the city did not have the funds or the capacity to enforce the by-laws.  However, while there are no funds to enforce the by-laws, the Council seems to be very happy to derive continuous income from the illegal billboards.

The illegal actions of Council go further.  Each and every potential and existing advertising site on Council property has to be put out on tender, according to the Municipal Finance Management Act, prior to entering into or extending current lease agreements.  In these cases, no tenders were invited, and the Council is and will be transgressing several laws and will open itself to litigation from several stakeholders.

DA Councillor Christo Botes says, "It is quite shocking that the Johannesburg City Council has resorted to illegal income to bridge its liquidity crisis. R 190 million is not a small amount of money."

Statement issued by Councillor Christo Botes- DA Spokesperson on Development Planning in the City of Johannesburg, June 15 2011

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