Cars, homes, roads de­stroyed

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - ANNA COX anna.cox@inl.co.za

WHILE the coun­try faces one of the most se­vere droughts in years, the City of Joburg lost an es­ti­mated 500 000 litres of wa­ter when a valve on a main line burst on the border of Bas­so­nia and Mey­ers­dal on Sun­day, caus­ing much de­struc­tion.

But Rand Wa­ter, un­der whose ju­ris­dic­tion the pipe falls, says the burst, re­sult­ing in the equiv­a­lent of two Olympic-sized swim­ming pools be­ing lost, did not hap­pen be­cause of lack of main­te­nance.

Spokesper­son Jus­tice Mo­hale said Rand Wa­ter had a main­te­nance and pipe re­place­ment sched­ule that was strictly ad­hered to.

“Pipes do burst. This pipe was not that old. It burst at one of the con­nec­tions. Th­ese things do hap­pen if pres­sure in­creases,” he said.

Rand Wa­ter, he said, had re­sponded im­me­di­ately and had man­aged to di­vert the wa­ter to a dif­fer­ent pipe, which re­sulted in no wa­ter cuts to neigh­bour­ing sub­urbs.

“We of­fered res­i­dents who could not oc­cupy their homes overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion. Of­fi­cials have been en­gag­ing with the af­fected home­own­ers to as­sess the dam­age to their prop­er­ties.”

The pres­sure of the wa­ter caused the valve in the pipe to shoot right through one unit.

Dam­age cost­ing prob­a­bly mil­lions of rand was caused to prop­erty and ve­hi­cles, but no one was in­jured in the flood­ing.

So high was the wa­ter pres­sure that most of the roads in the com­plex were ripped apart, strand­ing – and dam­ag­ing – many parked cars.

One car was half-buried un­der paving bricks and was filled, seat-high, in mud. The 15 af­fected fam­i­lies were of­fered ac­com­mo­da­tion in nearby guest houses. They spent yes­ter­day try­ing to get to grips with their losses as they fran­ti­cally tried to dry out their fur­ni­ture, cloth­ing and, most im­por­tantly, their doc­u­ments.

An­ton Bekker said he was away on hol­i­day in Mar­gate when a neigh­bour sent him pho­tos of the wa­ter pour­ing into his unit.

“We had to cut our hol­i­day short and re­turn home. We were dev­as­tated by what we found. Be­cause there was no one there to open doors to let the wa­ter out, the pres­sure blew the front door out. A neigh­bour broke a win­dow to res­cue our par­rot, which would have cer­tainly drowned,” he said.

The fam­ily were des­per­ately try­ing to dry out their iden­tity doc­u­ments, birth and mar­riage cer­tifi­cates, wills and in­sur­ance poli­cies.

“We are try­ing to sal­vage some cloth­ing but our lives have been turned up­side down. We re­ally don’t know where to turn to. We have chil­dren start­ing school this week. It’s a real dis­as­ter,” he said.

His daugh­ter Tar­quin said she had no words for the loss. “I don’t care about the clothes and other ma­te­rial things. I am study­ing for my hon­ours in char­tered ac­coun­tancy and I lost all my notes, which I spent four years com­pil­ing. The books can be re­placed, but the hand­writ­ten notes can­not. As a fam­ily, we don’t know where to start re­build­ing our lives,” she said.

David Nas­sif was pack­ing his ve­hi­cle ready to move to his mother’s house. “We weren’t at home, for­tu­nately. We have a two-mon­thold baby and this could have been a dis­as­ter. We have lost just about every­thing we own,” he said.

The pipe burst hap­pened on a main wa­ter pipe be­tween Bas­so­nia Rock Es­tate and the Mey­ers­dal Eco Es­tate.

Ward coun­cil­lor Sarah Wissler said the ex­act ex­tent of the dam­age was still be­ing as­sessed by Rand Wa­ter.

“This is the main feeder line in the area, so it in­volved a lot of wa­ter. The pres­sure was so great that many win­dows were blown out,” she said, adding that the foun­da­tions of the build­ings would now have to be checked.

Wissler said Rand Wa­ter were “fan­tas­tic and pro­fes­sional in the way they dealt with the burst”.

She also praised the neigh­bour­ing lo­cal res­i­dents who, she said, had come out in sup­port armed with spades, wheel­bar­rows and buck­ets to re­move de­bris block­ing the en­trance to many units so that res­i­dents could re-en­ter their homes to start clean­ing up.

Rand Wa­ter had large teams at the com­plex yes­ter­day, ex­am­in­ing and as­sess­ing the dam­age. They also pro­vided graders and work­ers to un­block roads and en­trances to units.


WRECKED: A new Mazda was swamped by wa­ter and crushed by rocks af­ter a mas­sive un­der­ground wa­ter pipe burst in Bas­so­nia.

COUNT­ING COSTS: An­ton Bekker, a res­i­dent at Tif­fany Gar­dens, in­spects the dam­age caused by the burst un­der­ground pipe.

END OF ROAD: Streets were washed away in the del­uge.

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