Maintenance a bridge too far for municipality-say opposition

By Chevon Booysen Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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Cape Town - The temporary access road to and from Zwelethemba in Worcester poses further danger to residents as it runs over a railway line, the local ward councillor says.

The Breede Valley Municipality came under fire recently for its failure to take precautionary action before the collapse of the Hex River bridge, the only entry and exit point into the township.

The bridge collapsed during heavy rain at the end of last week, isolating the community.

Ward 8 councillor Mimi Williams said the situation was “risky”, and accused the municipality of not prioritising a solution for the safety of residents.

“The matter of maintenance to the Zwelethemba bridge has been on the council and municipality’s agenda for many years, but the municipality ignored the call.

“They ignored us. During 2019 we again brought the matter to their attention, saying that the bridge was in a state of deterioration but nothing was done again.

“Now this has happened and we feel that if action was taken many years ago, the situation could have been avoided.

“We were isolated for a day because of the intransigence of Breede Valley (Municipality). If only they had listened to us,” said Williams.

Since the collapse of the bridge, a temporary access road was made at the R60, connecting to Njila Avenue. However, Williams said this road poses serious risks as it passes over a railway line.

“This is very dangerous and, with only temporary traffic officers stationed there at certain times of the day, it doesn’t do anything for safety.

“There had already been an accident involving a taxi which used the temporary access road which connects to the very busy highway. This situation needs to be prioritised and solved as soon as possible,” said Williams.

Breede Valley Municipality spokesperson Hannelie Botha said: “We are busy compiling a full report regarding this issue and will communicate this to all media as soon as it is approved.”

Questions as to why they allegedly never maintained the bridge were not answered.

ANC Boland region spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen said the “worst nightmare” of Zwelethemba residents materialised with the bridge collapse. It was the “artery that connects the township with the outside world,” he said, adding that the building of the temporary road came “too late”.

The EFF also condemned the municipality. It said in a statement: “We also call on the executive mayor to institute a full investigation into the reason/s why the bridge was not fixed or maintained when this matter was brought to the attention of the municipality in 2016.

“The municipality must also take full responsibility for the inconvenience they have caused.”

Cape Times

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