Durban - Construction workers scrambled to safety and helped to avert tragedy by diverting traffic when part of a bridge and road collapsed during heavy rains in Hillcrest on Monday.
The workers guided the morning rush hour away from the area after part of Inanda Road, near to where it crosses over a railway line, collapsed, leaving a 12m deep sinkhole in the lane leaving Hillcrest.
Construction crews had been working in the area, where a new bridge and two additional lanes are being built.
Engineers rejected speculation that nearby excavations might have caused the collapse, instead blaming the incident on exceptionally high rainfall.
No injuries or damage to equipment were reported.
According to contractors at the site, who wished to remain anonymous, cracks first appeared on the road surface, allowing water to seep through, and washing the sand from underneath it.
The rest of the stretch of road collapsed about 30 minutes later.
They said there was plenty of support for the side of the road during the excavations, insisting that the collapse could not have been foreseen.
One of the contractors said he had arrived for work earlier than usual and heard a loud “whoosh” sound before the road collapsed.
His immediate reaction was to stop motorists from driving over the bridge, he said.
Secure Link community watch spokesman, Steven King, said contractors put up construction cones on the bridge to divert traffic.
City engineers are working on a plan to repair the damage.
eThekwini Municipality spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said the road had been earmarked for an upgrade from Old Main and Link roads to Waterfall.
He referred enquiries to the provincial roads department, whose spokesman was unavailable at the time of publication.
The municipality’s Emergency Control and Disaster Management Unit’s preliminary report on the weekend weather indicate the entire municipality was affected by the rain, with the south, western and northern areas bearing the brunt.