File picture: Annie Mpalume / Independent Media.

Johannesburg - The City of Ekurhuleni has finally begun the removal of some of the 3000 illegal billboards and advertising signs along the N12/ Albertina Sisulu (formerly R24) freeway.

This follows complaints from irate residents, the South African National Roads Agency Limited and some of its own internal departments. Now, the municipality is going out to tender to appoint a company to assist with the removal of the illegal signs of all unapproved billboards and slap a R200 000 fine on those infringing the by-laws.

On Thursday the city removed a 37.5 square metre billboard illegally erected along the N12/ R24 split in Bedfordview.

“The structure was erected without municipal permission along the national road and the city could not trace its owner,” said spokesperson Themba Gadebe. “It also posed a danger to motorists as it was on a shallow and poorly constructed foundation, supported by tie ropes.”

The structure was an accident waiting to happen as it could easily have blown over onto the road, causing a major accident that could claim innocent lives or cause serious injury, he added.

“Ekurhuleni condemns the infringement of by-laws and warns law-breakers that the city will come down hard on them,” said Gadebe.

Offenders found to be illegally erecting structures that had not been approved by the municipality would be slapped with heavy fines, he warned.

Warnings ignored.

This follows an article published in The Star in August in which Sanral criticised the Ekurhuleni municipality over the numerous illegal billboards it had approved on bridges and along freeways.

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said at the time the agency had written to the city manager pointing out the many transgressions, but had not been able to have a meeting on the matter with him. He said they had engaged with the officials in the advertising department a number of times, pointing out the transgressions, without success.

Sanral had issued warnings and removal notices as is required in terms of the Sanral Act, which had been ignored, Mona said.

A huge 900m2 billboard erected at the Gillooly’s interchange caused outrage after Ekurhuleni approved it without Sanral’s permission.

The Star

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