TIME BOMB BELOW
Joburg is 30cm away from disaster. According to the Sunday Times, that’s how close illegal miners have come to striking the fuel and gas pipelines under the city — which could incinerate everything in a 300m radius. Then there are the parts of the city at risk of collapse due to illegal tunnelling.
Yet the national government seems to have taken a typically lackadaisical approach. Mayor Herman Mashaba’s office reportedly alerted the departments of mineral resources and co-operative governance & traditional affairs to the problem more than a year ago, as “the city doesn’t have the competence to deal with illegal mining activities or the disasters they [may] create”.
But by all accounts, both departments simply sat on their hands.
This is government failure, writ large: lack of economic opportunity means people feel forced to engage in such dangerous work in the first place; inadequate policing of shared resources; and failure to respond timeously and decisively to safeguard lives and property.
The report serves as a timely warning, before any lives are lost or property is damaged. All levels of government have an obligation to protect life and infrastructure. Failure to do so would amount to gross indifference towards the people of SA. The powder keg under the city of Joburg cannot be allowed blow up.