Driving on to Johannesburg’s vast highway network, you would be forgiven for thinking you had strayed into some decaying motoring wasteland, such is the state of the guardrails comprising much of motorists’ periphery.
These Armco barriers are designed to deflect errant vehicles away from medians, oncoming lanes or roadside fixtures, but for many kilometres of Johannesburg’s roads these bent, rusted and often missing safety devices have clearly been neglected.
When stolen by scrap metal collectors or damaged in an accident, it’s is up to the Johannesburg Roads Agency to repair or replace the affected guardrail, but agency spokesman Mosa Makhalima, says there is no contract in place for the supply of guardrail material.
“There are plans to fix the guardrails as soon as the contract is in place to supply guardrail material.”
He said: “Supply chain management is working on this.”
He didn’t respond to questions on what happened to the previous supplier of guardrails.
The agency also blames the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department and the SA Police Service for the derelict state of guardrails and other roadside furnishings.
“There is also the problem of theft and vagrancy,” Makhalima said. “Bridge hand railings, fencing poles and kerb inlet slabs are being stolen and damaged with little or no intervention by the JMPD or SAPS.
“Whatever is stolen and replaced gets stolen again.”
Though scrap metal values fluctuate daily, galvanised steel, which is used for most guardrails, is worth about R1.50 a kilogram. Mild stee, found in components such as bridge hand railings, will get you about R2.50/ a kilo while aluminium, though not as common but still used in some roadside fittings such as the rail mounting brackets, will realise between R7 and R40 per kilogram depending on the dealer.
The Johannesburg Roads Agency quoted a replacement cost of R737.35 for one standard 3.8-metre length of guardrail, which means one kilometre would cost about R194 000. - Star Motoring