The paper descriptionbes the governmental organization of South Africa, the third tier of which comprises local authorities. The nature of the works carried out by urban engineers, being of great variety and often of very large size, is discussed.
The name urban engineering is a reflection of the recognition by professional engineers of developing concepts of the proper engineering function In this field. To meet the needs of contemporary urban societies the engineer should develop procedures of holistic planning. This term is taken to represent the concept of the planning procedure taking into account the environmental consequences of the proposed action.
The local government forms ot South Atrica's metropolitan areas stem trom an earlier age. They are usually no more than small-town forms which have grown to a physical size beyond their capacity to solve the mounting problems of services provision. An organizational reform is needed.
Against the background of the realities of the population growth, urbanization and the demand for housing, the smaller local authorities in the RSA play an important role in respect of population numbers, provision of services and utilization of financial and manpower resources. However, these authorities have to cope with serious problems which are mainly caused by lack of finances and a shortage of trained and experienced personnel.
Urbanization is analysed in regional context and the role of urban engineering in the successful evolution of regional development strategies is investigated. Ever since the founding of the Sumerian civilization some 7 000 years ago, cities developed as entities with their rural districts. Many of the European city-states also developed in their typical regional context, totally Integrated with their traditional hinterlands.
The justification for and necessity of developing towns and cities in rural areas are indicated. Attention is given to urbanization and other important factors, particularly the development of white and black cities as deconcentration points. Aspects that require consideration are indicated and the importance of transportation and the provision of infrastructure is emphasized. Suggestions are made regarding norms and standards, general planning and the acquisition and development of land.