The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has increased the frequency of inspections on City bridges following a rise in the number of structures that have outlived their lifespan.
The City-owned entity says most bridges in the municipality are older than 50 years and require urgent repairs and rejuvenation, including the removal of sediment from around bridge abutments caused by swiftly moving water, which compromise the integrity of a structure.
The entity’s Acting Managing Director, Siyabonga Nodu says the JRA is similarly worried about acts of vandalism on some bridges, where components are removed, damaged or tempered with.
“We advise our motorists to take due care when using the City’s roads, check their surroundings and report any suspicious activity and incidents, drive with caution, avoid speeding and always be alert to any changes to the conditions of the roads.”
The JRA is responsible for the design, maintenance, repair and development of Johannesburg’s road network and stormwater infrastructure, including bridges and culverts, traffic lights and signage.
“We have about 50 bridges that require urgent repairs, that’s approximately R5 to R8-billion rands. We also have cases where people are stealing components that support bridges, some bridges are getting damaged due to heavy rains,” Nodu adds.
He says in total, the agency needs about R20-billion rands to fully rehabilitate the City’s roads, with at least R3-billion rands dedicated to addressing problems on arterial roads.
Last year, parts of the M1 South Bridge at the Booysens off-ramp became compromised due to heavy rains, resulting in panic stricken motorists.
“The main stormwater drainage system on top of the bridge had collapsed due to heavy rains and required full rehabilitation. However, this did not impact the bridge structure at all but the paving at the bottom of the bridge,” Nadu explains.
In addition, the Executive Mayor, Councillor Geoff Makhubo has launched a city-wide campaign aimed at eliminating potholes through deploying the JRA’s regional task teams to repair all damaged roads across Johannesburg; it is called #WagingWarOnPortholes.
Makhubo says the backlog of potholes is as a result of a myriad of infrastructural problems caused by migration into the City, climate change and the age of the City.