At least five separate investigations are underway into what caused a temporary bridge to collapse over the M1 highway in Sandton on Wednesday. The Department of Labour, the City of Johannesburg, the SAPS, Engineering Council of South Africa and the bridge’’s builder Murray and Roberts have all initiated investigations over the last two days.
“We have launched our investigation as we contracted Murray and Roberts and we feel responsible,” said the mayor’’s spokesman, Phindile Chauke. By yesterday afternoon, the M1 highway was reopened with Metro officers monitoring traffic flow where the incident had occurred. Gauteng Traffic Police spokesman Obed Sibasa said the collapse had not damaged the highway. Two people died and 21 people were injured when the bridge support structure collapsed just after 3pm.
The dead and injured were in two vehicles, a mini bus taxi and a Toyota Fortuna which were directly under the structure when it collapsed. Of the injured, Chauke, said, seven remained in hospital, with one person still critical. Yesterday Joburg mayor Parks Tau visited the injured and the families of the dead. “Everything at the moment as to what caused the collapse is speculation,” said Chauke.
Some of this speculation surrounds a cement mixer truck that is said to have crashed into the structure shortly before the collapse. Chauke however said that the truck arrived after the collusion. The pedestrian bridge was set to be completed by October next year. It is not clear when construction will resume. The reason for the construction of the bridge, said Tau, is that 10 000 pedestrians use Grayston Drive as a crossing point from Alexandra to Sandton every day.
The spokesman for the Department of Labour, Mokgadi Pela, said investigators were at present going through the evidence they had gathered at the scene. They would be compiling a preliminary report. “This preliminary report will give us the direction on how to go forward. If they find wrong doing, we will initiate a Section 32 hearing,” Pela said. In a statement Murray and Roberts said their investigation would “include analysis and research conducted by technical, engineering, legal and forensic specialists”. In addition the company said it had made contact and met with the families of those who died.
“We have also spoken with a number of the injured and will ensure they, and all affected parties, are receiving the necessary care. Over the next period, we will work closely with a team of independent counselling and trauma practitioners to ensure they are given all appropriate assistance,” a statement read.