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Johannesburg seeks to close Apartheid’s “spatial” divide

Design changes coming to Johannesburg include a bridge to connect Alexandria township (above) with the wealthy enclave of Sandton. (lebogang nkoane/flickr/cc)

Apartheid may have ended in South Africa, but the vestiges of racial segregation remain. The Economist reports that Johannesburg officials want to end “spatial” Apartheid — the relegation of black communities to the outskirts of this city, South Africa’s largest.  

Municipal officials aim to “restitch” the city to close the gaps between where most black residents live and work, according to the article. A central component will be a pedestrian bridge to connect Alexandra township, home of the late civil rights leader and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, with Sandton, the city’s wealthiest enclave. “These two areas are close as the crow flies, but cut off from each other by the country’s busiest highway,” the Economist writes.

The plan also calls for expanding the city’s bus system and adding cycling and walking paths to ease the commutes of slum dwellers. Despite the efforts, hurdles remain. The extension of public services to outlying areas can dissuade blacks from relocating, and some residents fear that the changes would increase crime.


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