28 October 2021
The City of Johannesburg Department of Development Planning has unveiled its new web-based construction permit system in a soft launch, held today.
Designed specifically for building permit purposes, the Construction Permit Management System, which will be piloted until 08 November 2021, is intended to modernise and streamline the current Site Development and Building Plan permit system.
Applicants – namely professionals who are registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) – will now be able to submit their building plans electronically; a significant move from paper-based applications, manual processing and capturing.
The implementation of the online application system seeks to enhance the operational efficiency and good governance of Development Planning, to improve on its service delivery mandates and further aligns with the City of Joburg’s Smart City programme.
This comes hot on the heels of the recently launched eJoburg – the City’s new digital billing and payment platform that allows residents to track their monthly municipal bill, check consumption and soon be able to upload meter readings.
All these initiatives fall in line with the City’s long-term vision, the Growth and Development Strategy 2040 and the Integrated Development Plan vision, which is to create a culture of excellence and continuous improvement, through the implementation of a customer-centric, optimised digital construction permitting process that reduces turnaround times whilst mitigating related risk.
An open-source system that has been used in 14 other international jurisdictions, the Construction Permit Management System is part of an initiative by the National Government on the Ease of Doing Business programme, with Johannesburg as the first South African city to pilot.
The programme is a collaborative effort with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), InvestSA, National Treasury and the national Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.
This programme has numerous milestones. Amongst others for the City of Johannesburg is about making it easy for residents and businesses to process construction permits, accessing electricity, and registering property.
The role of Development Planning in the programme is to ensure that the approval of construction permits is faster and efficient by reducing procedures and related costs, and, therefore, making it easy to do business with the City.
The current turnaround for decisions (approvals or refusals) on building plans for a commercial property is at least 30 days, whereas the online permit system will provide a decision within 15 days, provided that all documentation and the application form are completed.
Applicants will also receive real-time updates at every stage of the application – a step that has proven itself a necessity in the building plan application process.
Advocate Toto Fiduli, Registrar of SACAP, highlighted that the CoJ online application system will contribute significantly to the professional body’s public protection statutory mandate, particularly against fraudulent and unregistered persons.
“In the past year, SACAP has seen a steady increase in the number of persons who pass themselves as registered persons, when they are not.
“In addition, we have experienced an increase in the number of persons who fraudulently use titles and registration numbers of registered persons to submit applications to local authorities,” Adv Fiduli added.
Development Planning has noted concerns of job losses and puts it on record that no municipal staff will lose their jobs as a result of the implementation of the system. The Department is rolling out a plan to ensure that all municipal staff whose roles and jobs are affected by the implementation of the new system are assigned new roles within Development Planning.
The introduction of the system is about improving operational efficiencies, cutting unnecessary costs and associated logistics that hinder the ease of doing business with the City.
Benefits of digitising the building plan application process include:
- Online checklists and other information in one place for easy access;
- Online applications (anywhere, anytime);
- Enhancing customer satisfaction by improving transparency (system notifications via email);
- No need for external consultants – the City receives the application and process the Site Development Plans and Building Plans using an integrated and equitable system distribution workflow;
- Categorisation of building types and prioritising them;
- Building inspectors issued with tablets to access the system as they conduct inspections on-site and provide real-time updates;
- Improved final inspections using workflow and faster issuance of Certificates of Occupancy; and
- Improved reporting and measurement.
Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Development Planning, Cllr Thapelo Amad said the City, and the Government of Local Unity, remains committed to enhancing the delivery of quality services by implementing a system to better serve the residents of Johannesburg.
“The Construction Permit Management System holds both the City and architectural professionals accountable throughout the online application process.
“The former, for the efficient and seamless processing of building plan applications, with equal distribution among Regional staff to eliminate preferential treatment and undue influence; and the latter, for the submission of quality building plans by professionals, whose credentials are validated against SACAP,” added MMC Amad.
SACAP registered architectural professionals who would like to be workshopped on the new Construction Permit Management System are welcome to contact the Building Control Officer, Mr Maruping Broderick Chiloane, via email on MarupingC@joburg.org.za.
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