Bridge leaves residents helpless

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Fourways Review

Paulshof– The 12th Avenue bridge is estimated to be completed at the end of February.

Residents in Petervale, Bryanston and Paulshof have been left with both frustrations and feelings of helplessness due to a lack of service delivery.

Residents from all three communities have been going back and forth with the City of Johannesburg and its roads entity the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) for over a year now with regard to the 12th Avenue bridge between Devonshire and Elizabeth avenues.

A concerned member of the community, who initially raised concerns about the bridge’s integrity, was Lita Jacobsen. In her first communication sent to the JRA last year in January, Jacobsen highlighted a sinkhole along the bridge which continued to increase in size with every passing rain.

“During this time when I was trying to get someone down here [to the bridge] I actually looked at a section in the bridge which had slowly begun to collapse. Yes, the JRA did try and put up a yellow barricade to warn motorists of the hole but eventually the sinkhole got so big that the barricade fell in,” said Jacobsen.

Another resident, Karolynn van Vuren added that the sinkhole was simply an accident waiting to happen. “I shudder if I stop to think about a young, new, inexperienced driver or a mother distracted for a minute with loads of children on these roads,” said Van Vuren.

Ward 106 councillor Christopher Santana, who has been working on the issue with the City since February last year, added that that initial collapse was due to the heavy pressure placed on the stormwater running underneath the bridge. Combined with the increased occurrence of heavy rains, the bridge became a danger to all.

The bridge was thus closed by the City before the lockdown in March so that it could be repaired.

Unfortunately, according to Santana, a contractor was only appointed towards the end of October. “We were told that there were no funds available to repair the bridge which is why it took so long to appoint a contractor.”

At the time JRA spokesperson Mosa Makhalima confirmed that the entity was awaiting additional budget allocation, a response to which many of the residents were also accustomed to.

Jacobsen, however, questioned why the entity did not have the money initially. In fact, during the sitting of the City of Joburg’s 2020/2021 medium-term budget, MMC of Finance Jolidee Matongo announced that a total of R440 million had been set aside over the medium term for the construction and upgrading of bridges.

Nonetheless, the contractors began working on the bridge in December and the JRA noted a provisional completion date of 23 December. Contractors were, however, only on-site for an estimated two weeks before having to stop for the holidays and the summer rains.

In an email exchange between Jacobsen and JRA on 11 January, the entity confirmed that the contractors were already back on-site. Santana said that he was told that the bridge may only be completed and reopened at the end of February.

The JRA was contacted on three separate occasions for an update with regard to the bridge’s completion date but no response was availed at the time of print.

Until then the residents and motorists, who were previously accustomed to using the bridge as a shortcut through the suburbs, are left to endure

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