The Effects of Road Closures and Limited Neighborhood Access: New Forms of Urban Regulation in Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Ibadan

Special Report: The Road, between Networks and Territories
By Claire Bénit-Gbaffou, Seyi Fabiyi, Samuel Owuor

Johannesburg, Ibadan and Nairobi have recently witnessed the rapid development of enclosed neighborhoods, i.e. neighborhoods whose access is controlled by a group of residents by the closing-off (through temporary or permanent barriers, with or without a pedestrian access) of the streets leading to these neighborhoods. This form of territorial construction, mostly motivated by security concerns, raise important challenges to the management of metropolitan areas – in terms of traffic flows and mobility, as well as in terms of exclusion and urban fragmentation. The paper will analyze the power conflicts at several scales raised by road closures and their consequences in terms of urban governance restructuring, in a comparative perspective. Highly politicized debates in Johannesburg where mobility and segregation are particularly sensitive questions, public apathy in Ibadan where self-organisation is the dominant mode of urban regulation, and growing formalisation of locally-based urban management in Nairobi, present a contrasted set of political analyses for this common contemporary urban form.

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