Thohoyandou’s central business district and the hypothetical accessibility challenges for emergency services
Thohoyandou is a town in the Limpopo province of South Africa, with a population of 69 453 according to 2011 Census. It has rapidly filled up the spatial limits of its central business district (CBD) to such an extent that the latest retail development, the Thavhani Mall, has leapfrogged the P-East residential area into the open spaces to the south of the CBD across the R 254. The objective of this study was to determine if emergency services - that is, police, ambulance and fire brigade - could access all parts of the CBD in a hypothetical situation of multiple disasters occurring simultaneously. The study method mapped the CBD’s urban morphological elements and determined, through qualitative descriptions, the frictional spaces each of the emergency services would face in attempting to access all parts of the CBD. The findings were, firstly, that in a ‘worst case scenario’ the emergency services would face formidable infrastructure, human and mobility obstacles in their pathways. The second finding is that the emergency services would not be able to cope with a high-impact disaster or a multiplicity of disasters. The study identified precautions that should be considered by the municipality and other stakeholders in order to mitigate the potential risks of human-induced disasters in the CBD.