Small tremor may have led to bridge fail

Van­dal­ism, min­ing not ruled out in col­lapse on N3 near Gil­looly’s

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

VAN­DAL­ISM, min­ing ac­tiv­ity or nat­u­ral causes could have caused the bridge col­lapse on the N3 near Gil­looly’s yes­ter­day.

Foren­sic ex­perts and of­fi­cials from the Coun­cil for Geo­science were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing and are likely to have an­swers this morn­ing on the near-death in­ci­dent that in­jured five peo­ple.

The bridge was built in 1978 but has been de­com­mis­sioned for many years.

Although th­ese var­i­ous rea­sons are be­ing bandied about, the Coun­cil for Geo­science’s Dr Eldridge Kgaswane said that a tremor of 2 or less on the Richter scale, as had been ex­pe­ri­enced on Tues­day, and which was not wide­spread, could not have been the cause of the col­lapse.

“It would take tremors of over 6 or more to have caused the bridge to col­lapse.”

The bridge, he said, was on Cen­tral Rand where there had been a lot of min­ing ac­tiv­ity many years ago but which has since not oc­curred.

“Wa­ter fills th­ese cav­i­ties over the years and we some­times have fluid-in­duced wa­ter move­ments which cause the tremors,” Kgaswane said

It could also be that the col­lapse could have caused the tremor, send­ing out af­ter-shocks.

“We will start in­ves­ti­ga­tions this morn­ing,” he said.

The SA Na­tional Roads Agency (San­ral) said the bridge was out of use be­cause of changed land use devel­op­ment along­side the free­way.

“It was reg­u­larly in­spected in terms of San­ral’s bridge man­age­ment sys­tem.

“The bridge was in­spected in July 2016 and noth­ing was found that war­ranted ac­tion,” said Vusi Mona, gen­eral man­ager of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Five peo­ple were in­jured, one of them crit­i­cally, when the over­head pedes­trian bridge col­lapsed onto pass­ing cars along the N3 free­way in Ger­mis­ton, Ekurhu­leni.

One pa­tient was air­lifted to hos­pi­tal.

The road is ex­pected to be cleared by this morn­ing.

Wil­liam Nt­ladi, spokesman for emer­gency ser­vices in the City of Ekurhu­leni, said crews of towtruck driv­ers, metro po­lice of­fi­cers, and en­gi­neers from San­ral and the De­part­ment of Labour were on site the whole day yes­ter­day.

“The heavy-duty trucks spent the day and most of the night tow­ing dam­aged ve­hi­cles and trucks away. Clean-up of the dam­aged con­crete has started and will con­tinue through the night,” he told The Star yes­ter­day.

Nt­ladi said metro po­lice of­fi­cers had been strate­gi­cally placed around all ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions, di­vert­ing traf­fic onto other routes.

“We still ad­vise mo­torists this morn­ing to avoid this in­ter­sec­tion,” he said.

Lo­cal ward coun­cil­lor Gill Humphreys said the bridge had been un­used for many years.

“Over this time, it has been stripped of nuts and bolts and all steel re­in­forc­ing.

“We are ques­tion­ing why San­ral did noth­ing to en­sure the safety of the bridge, as this al­most cer­tainly caused the col­lapse,” she said.

Gaut­eng Pre­mier David Makhura wished those in­jured in the bridge col­lapse a speedy re­cov­ery.

He said the MEC for Roads and Trans­port, Is­mail Vadi, was on the scene as­sess­ing the dam­age.

Vadi con­ducted a site in­spec­tion and con­firmed that the free­way be­tween the Gelden­huys in­ter­change and Van Bu­uren Road would be closed un­til the de­bris was re­moved.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those in hos­pi­tal. I shud­der to think what would have hap­pened if this oc­curred dur­ing peak hour traf­fic,” said Vadi.

He wished the mo­torists and pas­sen­gers who were in­jured a speedy re­cov­ery.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, a pedes­trian bridge in Grayston Drive, which was un­der con­struc­tion and which was to link Alexandra to Sand­ton, col­lapsed, killing two peo­ple and in­jur­ing 19.

The De­part­ment of Labour has still not con­cluded its in­ves­ti­ga­tion say­ing it was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting all the par­ties in­volved, to­gether.

PIC­TURE: NOKUTHULA MBATHA

CLOSE CALL: Five peo­ple were in­jured af­ter a pedes­trian bridge on the N3 high­way in Ger­mis­ton, Bed­ford­view col­lapsed yes­ter­day.

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