Investigators head to N3 bridge collapse
Workers battle to clear the intersection after a pedestrian bridge suddenly collapsed, blocking the N3 highway Geldenhuys interchange
Three government entities have opened investigations into the collapse of a pedestrian bridge on the N3 highway’s Geldenhuys interchange near Bedfordview.
The bridge, which has not been used for nearly 15 years, collapsed without warning on Wednesday. Five people were injured, including a seven-year-old child.
Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi said that despite the theft of guard rails by scrap metal recyclers, South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) assessors had declared the bridge structurally sound in 2016.
The bridge was built in 1978 and was closed off to pedestrians when a business complex was built nearby.
Sanral, the Department of Labour and the South African Police Service sent investigators to the site as workers tried to clear debris from the busy intersection.
"The bridge has an 80m span, it’s a huge area to cover. To break all of those things down and they have to physically cut the steel … and then remove the debris and clear the road completely so that it’s safe for motorists," Vadi said.
Social media commentators said there was fear a tremor that hit Johannesburg earlier on Wednesday damaged the bridge.
But Vadi and the Ekurhuleni Emergency Services said it was too early to speculate on the cause.
Vadi said the priority was to reopen the intersection quickly as it was the "busiest in SA". "The most important thing is to try clear the road as early as possible so that we don’t disrupt the peak-hour traffic."
Ekurhuleni Emergency Services spokesman William Ntladi said that although they wanted to operate as quickly as possible to reopen the road, the debris had to be moved strategically in order to ensure evidence integrity.