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The Cities This Week: Edition 51




Thousands of protestors march in the streets of Mexico City to protest energy reforms. Source: AFP

Thousands of protestors march in the streets of Mexico City to protest energy reforms. Source: AFP

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MEXICO CITY

“Tens of thousands of people have marched in Mexico City to protest against constitutional reforms pushed through by President Enrique Pena Nieto to open the oil and gas industry to foreign investment. An estimated 65,000 people gathered for the protest on Friday in the Zocalo – a main square in the capital city – an official at the Secretariat of Public Safety told the AFP news agency. At least 2,500 police officers were deployed but there were no incidents of violence, the official said. The march was organised by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the leftist opposition to the president’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The reforms, which open Mexico’s oil industry to foreign investment for the first time in 75 years, were approved in Congress and ratified by a majority of Mexican states in late 2013.” – AlJazeera

CAPE TOWN

“The City of Cape Town will be making urgent adjustments to some of its MyCiTi buses after commuters complained that the lack of air conditioning made their commute unpleasant. The new units, which will be retro-fitted to about half of the MyCiTi fleet, will cost the city about R4 million. Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, said the city had decided to forgo air conditioning because of the ongoing operating and downtime maintenance costs. “While it was acknowledged that on extremely hot days the temperature within the passenger cabin would be relatively high, it was anticipated that the buses’ natural ventilation, augmented with ducted fans, would provide sufficient airflow and would alleviate the discomfort experienced by passengers.”” – IOL

SOUTH AFRICAN CITIES

Two South African cities have been selected as finalists in the 2014 Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge, a global competition that recognises the substantial long-term efforts of cities to combat climate change. The two contenders, Cape Town and Durban, were among six South African cities that participated in a collaborative programme between the WWF and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability by registering their green urban development plans for building, transport, energy and food systems on the carbon Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), an internationally recognised carbon reporting platform managed by ICLEI. The other four participating local cities were Johannesburg, Tshwane, Buffalo City Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. The chief executive officer of WWF South Africa, Dr Morné du Plessis, says: “We are absolutely delighted to see six South African cities taking up the mantle and proudly participating in this global challenge. This is a clear indication that South African cities are consciously taking steps towards more sustainable futures for the well-being and prosperity of their citizens. Healthy environments result in healthy and happy people.” – 25 Degrees

DETROIT

“The Detroit Institute of Arts announced a plan to raise $100 million for the city of Detroit, in an attempt to save its art and secure it from any future attempts to sell off the valuable collection.  The DIA’s massive art collection has been in a precarious position since the city was approved for bankruptcy in December of last year. The city’s sellable art —which Christie’s has valued at between $454 and $867 million, but others say is actually worth much more — has been eyed for sale as a way to raise funds for the city. Though selling art to pay off old debts is seen as taboo, creditors have made the case that holding on to the DIA’s valuable trove diverts funding away from pensioners. The museum has worked to de-link the two, arguing that they will work to save both their art and individual retirement funds — which is exactly what they have just pledged to do.” – Atlantic Cities

BANGKOK

Gunfire and explosions rocked Bangkok following clashes between pro-government “red shirts” and protesters, leading to fears of further violence as Thais head to the polls. Witnesses near the ballot distribution centre in Lak Si, in the north of the capital, described a chaotic scene in which explosions and sporadic gunfire lasting an hour echoed through the air, forcing people to seek shelter in a nearby shopping centre. The BBC reported that as many as six people, including one journalist, may have been injured in the clashes, although it was unclear whether the injured were pro- or anti-government demonstrators. The violence took place in a suburban stronghold of the ruling Puea Thai party, after anti-government demonstrators blocking the delivery of ballot boxes to the Lak Si district office clashed with hundreds of government supporters wielding batons and metal bars.” – The Guardian

LONDON

“London’s soaring house prices are pushing the market towards a bubble, an influential group of economists has warned. The capital’s house prices are beginning to show signs of “bubble-like conditions”, according to a report by the EY Item Club. By contrast, prices in the rest of the UK give no cause for concern. The average London house price rose by 11.6 per cent year on year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. This compares to 3.1 per cent in the rest of the country outside London and southeast England. In response, the government should cap the amount housebuyers can borrow against any particular level of deposit, the Club said. This limit on income multiples would be more effective than cancelling the government’s flagship Help To Buy policy, which subsidises borrowing for house purchases. “The most likely source of a bubble is London, where the impact of Help to Buy is likely to be small,” the report noted.” – Financial Times

LAGOS

“Residents of Atinporome, Aroromi Ale and Mowo Phase 2, in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State, whose houses were demolished in December last year, have filed a suit against the state government, claiming N100 billion as damages. In the suit, 23 landlords are praying the court to declare that their arrest, torture and detention alongside 72 others, coupled with the forceful demolition of 1,500 houses, by the respondents for two days on December 16 and 17, is wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. They are also seeking an order compelling the respondents to pay the sum of N100 billion being general and exemplary damages.” – National Mirror

JOHANNESBURG

Officials running the City of Johannesburg are confident that the administration is capable of delivering a transformed city with access to telecommunications at every corner and complete transport integration — in 10 years’ time. City officials on Thursday dismissed claims that the city was bankrupt. They were also adamant that the administration would improve its billing system and increase its rate of billed revenue collection from 92% at present to 97% by 2016. he city on Thursday hailed its first unqualified audit in three years, saying the auditor-general did not have any reservations concerning the financial statements the city issued.” – BDLive

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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