Johannesburg MMC for Transport, Cllr Nonhlanhla Makhuba
MMC for Finance, Cllr Matshidiso Mfikoe
MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Department – EISD, Cllr Mpho Moerane
Johannesburg Roads Agency - JRA CEO, Mr Selemo Monakedi
Senior Gauteng Government Officials
Representatives from the private sector
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me start by welcoming you all to the City of Johannesburg’s showcase of our input in the observation of the 2nd annual International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies today.
We are gathered here to witness how one of the City’s busiest entities, the Joburg Roads Agency – JRA – reduces pollution impact on our local environment in the execution of its daily responsibilities.
The theme for the Johannesburg International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is ‘healthy air, healthy planet’, which is designed to draw attention to the City’s contribution to the global awareness campaign.
This is after the United Nations two years ago declared the 7th of September the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. The decision followed an increasing interest by the international community in the need to improve air quality for the protection of human health.
The Day is also designed to advance global awareness on air pollution and promote necessary action by all stakeholders.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Poor air quality impacts on the health and wellbeing of communities, particularly poor community members, who are mostly the elderly, women and children.
We are observing the International Day during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has been reported to affect the respiratory system and most of us here today have been directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic through either having tested positive for Covid-19, having lost a loved one or just knowing someone affected.
Unfortunately, poor air quality exacerbates the impact of Covid-19, which mostly affects the respiratory system, and people with comorbidities are more at risk.
Johannesburg is a very busy City with some industry and manufacturing factories still operational in parts of the metropolitan. This is alongside other drivers of poor air quality such as vehicles, mining, biomass as well as households.
Today we can be in the JRA Asphalt Plant where the City can showcase and highlight the importance of industries as critical contributors to the improvement of the local air quality.
As it stands, the City has 43 licensed facilities that have been issued with the Atmospheric Emissions License. Today we wish to call on all the license holders to partner with the City in ensuring that we all play our part in the sustainable management of emissions for the benefit of both the business and the people of Johannesburg.
It is important that all licence holders comply with the prescribed legal emissions’ standards in place to minimise the impact on the health of residents.
The City of Johannesburg welcomes the initiative by GDARD - led by MEC Parks Tau in recognising facilities that perform exceedingly well in reducing their emissions through innovative technologies, best practice, and commitment to sustainable production.
It is in this regard that as we observe the 2021 International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies that we appeal to all the industries in the City to improve how they conduct their businesses. This can be done through ensuring continued compliance with the issued Atmospheric Emission License conditions and working towards being recognised for improving their emissions’ profile.
As a City, we applaud the work done under MMC for Transport, Cllr. Nonhlanhla Makhuba and the JRA CEO on the improvements being witnessed today at the Asphalt Plant. This is one facility that used to generate a lot of air pollution complaints from the surrounding businesses and residential areas.
To have it recognised for its improved performance on reducing emissions is very encouraging and should serve as an example to other business facilities in operation across the City.
I must however point out that the City’s challenges are not only limited to air pollution, but we are also grappling with rapid urbanisation, migration, and mushrooming of informal settlements. All these factors place an increased demand on municipal services like energy supply, waste removal and public transportation, which have an impact on our air quality.
The City is entrusted with the responsibility of managing air quality in Johannesburg through the implementation of bylaws and awareness programmes directed at both residents and business operators. This then means, both businesses and residents are partly responsible for ensuring that they too play their part in keeping our City safe for all of us.
As we observe the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies today, it is important to remind all Johannesburg residents that the improvement of air quality is depended on all of us.
It is mainly our actions that contribute to poor air quality, particularly in how we manage our waste - when we burn it and undertake industrial activities without the necessary technologies to limit emissions into the air.
As a City, we have recently adopted the Air Quality Management Plan that aims to ensure that we achieve clean air for all, through the implementation of coordinated actions that will result in the reduction of emissions.
The objectives of the Air Quality Management Plan will only be achieved through compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the City’s Air Pollution Control By-laws, which are soon to be promulgated.
These by-laws will ensure that all the activities that contribute to air pollution like waste burning, operation of noxious industries, especially in residential areas, are controlled and regulated.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, I wish to appeal to all of us in Johannesburg to collectively reduce incidences of illegal dumping and waste burning in our residential areas. We need to promote renewable energy sources in our households and ensure that where air pollution activities are identified, these are reported to authorities.
In observation of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, let us all take time to inform ourselves about the quality of air that we are exposed to.
The City has eight air quality monitoring stations that record and report the state of air quality in our municipal area. This data is available for public consumption on the South African Air Quality Information System’s website and App.
We all need to be well informed about the state of the environment we live in and ensure that the good health of our City is sustained.
Let us all remember that it all starts with you and I taking responsibility for our actions and our surroundings to maintain good air quality and a healthy environment.
We all need to play our part.
I thank You.