Speaking to ENCA, City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said that no formal plans to make the shift have been drawn up, and the city will need at least six months to flesh out the details of the proposal.
Only once a clear plan has been drawn up can the city move forward and engage with the various communities of Johannesburg, he said.
The city hosted an engagement session earlier in June, through which members of the property, investment and business sectors proposed a 24-hour work day to unleash endless opportunities for efficiency, growth, and employment in the city.
In the proposed system, Johannesburg would model itself after other first-world cities such as New York, Buenos Aires, or Tokyo which benefit significantly from a night-time economy. The residents and tourists in these cities enjoy the twenty-four-hour cafés, supermarkets, cinemas, gyms, public transport, and other services.
This would not only boost economic activity in the city but would also help address the growing unemployment crisis, by introducing an entire second shift of work that would need more employees to manage.
However, reaction to the proposal has been met with skepticism from residents, who cite crime and the broader South African power crisis as major stumbling blocks.
Modingoane acknowledged these responses, saying that all stakeholders – particularly from the safety and security and energy sectors – would have to be brought in to be part of the discussion around a 24-hour work cycle.
“Earlier this year we held an energy indaba – this indaba looked at other innovative ways of trying to have less reliance on the Eskom grid. Those discussions are ongoing parallel to this new idea,” he said.
“Some of these ideas, we’ve started to unpack them – what is doable? What are the quick wins?”
He said that the city operates on an integrated planning model which looks out over five years, but can be reviewed. He suggested that the city could look at rolling out plans in specific precincts, which could be turned around quickly to change how businesses is done in the city.
“A precinct that has 24-hour business operations might need 24-hour waste management services, and so forth. The public safety MMC will need to come up with a plan that responds to these processes,” Modingoane said.
However, he stressed that the city’s top priority is to “get the basics right”, and to be a business-friendly city that helps create jobs. The proposed 24-hour work plan could be a part of this.
The process now is to rope in other officials from their respective departments to see how business operations can change, he said.
Read: Joburg wants to introduce a 24-hour work day to boost jobs and economic growth