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Stormwater drain shortage causes chaos

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Motorists had to drive through pools of water on Joburgs roads this week amid heavy rain.

Johannesburg - The lack of stormwater drains on Joburg’s roads is wreaking havoc in the city.

This week heavy rains caused extensive flooding in various areas, forcing motorists to drive through pools of water and placing their lives in danger.

Although the City of Joburg recently announced it had allocated up to R110 billion toward road infrastructure over 10 years, areas such as the double-decker bridge on the M1 North highway continue to be a traffic nightmare and a danger zone for motorists.

The bridge is closed during rains because of the rising level of the river beneath it.

According to the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), the highway in question is susceptible to flooding.

JRA spokesman Bertha Peters-Scheepers said the reason for this was that the design and construction of the motorway bridge was completed years ago, adding that weather patterns and storm water run-offs in the city had since changed significantly.

“Budget allocation exists to address the flooding of the double-decker bridge. A project has been initiated to design and construct adequate stormwater infrastructure to alleviate the continual flooding,” she said.

Other places prone to flooding include the New Canada Dam bridge in Soweto which Peters-Scheepers said needed to be expanded. She said a budget was allocated for in this financial year.

Asked how many areas in the city were without stormwater drains, Peters-Scheepers said a majority of surfaced roads had stormwater infrastructure, with the exception of areas previously developed by the provincial Housing Department.

The theft of metal in the city is also crippling infrastructure and the JRA said it believed that vandalisation of stormwater drains was prevalent in remote areas.

It said that typically, areas affected were around the motorways and roads feeding the motorways.

So far, JRA has spent about R3 million in the last financial year and this excludes claims resulting from motor vehicle damage.

She said the theft and vandalism of metal holding up road infrastructure was a challenge for the JRA, which has since resorted to securing areas by using temporary yellow safety barriers.

This, Peters-Scheepers said, was carried out in an attempt to reduce the vulnerability of the stormwater structures.

She said the agency was investigating the use of alternative materials to reduce such risk.

noni.mokati@inl.co.za

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