BURST PIPE CHAOS
Cars, homes, roads destroyed
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.