By Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni for The Citizen
Urgent repairs will start on the M2 in the CBD in October, with the reconstruction estimated to take up to a year to finish.
Johannesburg’s ageing road infrastructure was in the spotlight yesterday after it emerged that parts of the M2 near the Johannesburg CBD were in dangerously poor shape and parts of it would soon be closed, pending repairs.
Built in the ’60s, the bridges on the M2 were now near the end of their design lifespan, requiring urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation, according to Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
The M2 is one of the motorways which link the N3/N2 with the inner city and the western parts of the city.
The Joburg Road Agency (JRA) appointed a specialist to conduct detailed assessments on the affected sections of the bridges. It was found the sections were severely cracked, which affected their structural integrity.
According to the JRA, just 6% of Johannesburg’s bridges were in good condition. The remaining 94% needed immediate intervention.
“As an immediate measure, the JRA is preparing to redirect limited funding from other projects, at a cost of approximately R58-million, to start working on the bridge, as a matter of urgency,” said Mashaba.
Once work begins in October, the reconstruction was estimated to take up to 12 months. During this period, one lane would be closed at a time and most of the work on top of the M2 would be done during evenings.
The mayor said Johannesburg was suffering from an infrastructure backlog.
“Previous administrations allowed for a R12-billion backlog in bridge infrastructure, R7.1-billion on road infrastructure and a R56 billion backlog in storm water drainage systems. In a survey conducted in 2017, 3 900km of the road network fell into the poor, or very poor, condition.”
The expected increased congestion on affected roads was expected to affect the local economy, as well as tourism.
A major taxi strike is underway in Johannesburg this morning, causing chaos as commuters try to get to work.
Major transport routes – including the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria at Allandale, the M1, N12 and the N3 – have been blocked. Traffic has ground to a halt, causing road users to be stranded in traffic jams backing up for kilometres.
According to EWN, drivers affiliated to South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) have gone on strike on Thursday morning after talks with SA Taxi Finance Holdings deadlocked. The association argues that the monthly instalments on the Toyota Quantums it uses are simply unaffordable at prime plus 10%.
People urged to stay at home
The Gauteng Education Department says it will be safer for parents to keep their children at home today. A number of large corporates in Johannesburg’s CBD have advised their employees to stay at home too.
Shots have been fired
There have been reports of gunshots fired as taxis congregated near the Mall of Africa at the Allandale Road off-ramp.
Costs for commuters
Commuters have taken to Twitter to voice their frustrations at being unable to get around the city. Aside from an inability to get to work and the financial implications of losing a day’s wage, people are also citing lost opportunities (such as job interviews) as well as the dangers of taking lifts from strangers to meet commitments (which could result in kidnap, rape or human trafficking).
Image credit: Traffic SA
A recent High Court decision has likely set a new precedent that could allow for private citizens and bodies to perform basic service delivery functions with taxpayers’ money.
In the judgement, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carry out maintenance themselves, subject to strict conditions including giving the department 30 days notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes.
At the time of the judgement, president of Agri Eastern Cape, Douglas Steyn, told the Eastern Cape paper, Dispatch that the ruling would likely to have far-reaching consequences around the country as other farmers and civil society groups will follow suit.
This was confirmed by civil group Afriforum, who noted that it has subsequently begun using similar legal means to provide basic service delivery functions around the country.
Speaking in the 12 March edition of the Rapport, head of AfriForum’s local governance division, Marcus Pawson, noted that it had not only been reimbursed for roads but other basic services such as the removal of trees, and the replacement of water pumps.
The Rapport also noted that Pawson and Afriforum announced plans to use the judgment to set precedent in other provincial jurisdictions so that people would not have to be reimbursed on a case by case basis but could then implement the fixes using specific legal guidelines.