Martin Williams
2 minute read
2 Oct 2019
6:25 am

Outdoor ads are a city scourge

Martin Williams

Some of South Africa’s most valuable road reserves and public open spaces have been defaced by people trying to make a quick buck through deception.

For illustrative purposes. Workers paint an advertisement billboard in Newtown, Johannesburg, 25 September 2019. Photo by: Emmanuel Croset

It’s been done before. In 2007, the Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, implemented a “Clean City Law” against visual pollution. More than 15,000 billboards and 300,000 oversized storefront signs were removed. Other cities, including New York, Chennai (India), Paris and Grenoble (France), and Bristol (UK) have faced pressure to ban outdoor advertising. In Johannesburg, a vast criminal exercise has recently seen hundreds of large structures rapidly planted in prime locations before a September 30 false “grace period” deadline. Unscrupulous people have deliberately misinterpreted a City of Johannesburg notice aimed at regularising the industry. It’s like a fools’ gold rush, except...