Share this article

Traffic accidents and vandals have damaged parts of Nelson Mandela Bridge, prompting the City to put in place tighter security measures.
THE City is looking into repairing some parts of Nelson Mandela Bridge after vagrants living beneath the structure pulled out electricity cables and damaged metal elements.


Vandals are damaging Mandela Bridge, one of the city's biggest attractionsVandals are damaging Mandela Bridge, one of the city's biggest attractionsIt is still waiting for help from a service provider that has to carry out pro-active maintenance work, the City explains. The service provider has been instructed to repair the bridge in a way that will minimise the future possibility of vandalism, according to Lisa Seftel, Joburg’s executive director of transport.

“Pro-active maintenance is done on the basis of regular bridge inspections. This is very important for a steel bridge,” she says.

The largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa, the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge was slightly damaged when light and malleable metal elements were pulled out, exposing electric wires. Some of the glass panels on the pedestrian walkway were shattered and the concrete surface was cracked.

Seftel concedes that although the City does carry out regular reactive and proactive maintenance on the bridge, it has been unable to keep vandals away. “The City acknowledges there has been a problem of vandalism and small parts of the bridge have been removed.”

Aluminium plates are also dangling on the glass panes, exposing stripped fibre optic cables on the outside of the light boxes. The protective metal boxes that hold the structural steel beams are also in poor condition. “The removal of parts of the bridge does not compromise the safety of road users or pedestrians.”

Road accidents
Seftel notes that some of the damage was caused by road accidents, and adds that pro-active maintenance will be carried out at regular intervals to ensure that the bridge remains in working order.

“The City’s reactive maintenance will respond to the wear and tear and damage.”

Because of the vandalism and copper wiring being stolen from the bridge, the City has put in place tighter security measures, including 24-hour video surveillance.

The imposing bridge is one of many landmarks in Johannesburg and countrywide that pay homage to the retired statesman, Nelson Mandela. Connecting Newtown and Braamfontein, it was symbolically designed to link the older part of the city with the new, in the same way that Mandela laboured to heal past racial rifts and lead a democratically governed country.

It was officially opened by Mandela on 20 July 2003. Construction took two years and cost R38-million. The bridge was commissioned to rejuvenate and modernise the inner city, an initiative spearheaded by the provincial Blue IQ.

The proposal was to link two of the city’s business areas, the stylish Braamfontein and Newtown, Joburg’s arts, heritage and cultural hub.

It is 284 metres long, 42 metres high at the north pylon and 27 metres high at the south pylon. Engineers used structural steel with a concrete composite deck to keep the bridge light in weight. It has two traffic lanes in each direction, a walkway in each direction and a reserved lane for bicycles. Its light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technology alternates between a range of colours.

It was judged “the most outstanding civil engineering project achievement in the technical excellence category” by the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) and won the SAICE Award of the Century in the construction category. The institute is an independent body that promotes the improvement of quality in the sector and rewards good practice.

Related stories:

Chancellor House to be restored
Madiba, our most famous Joburger