The eThekwini Municipality has blamed thieves for the collapse of the M4 pedestrian walkway and concrete barrier along the uMngeni River bridge at the weekend.

Thieves had stolen the stainless steel shackles that connected the supporting beams of the structure, Carlos Esteves, the municipality’s deputy head of the road systems management, said yesterday.

“The collapse was unforeseen, because the thieves were stealing the connectors under the bridge,” he said. “We are amazed that they were able to access that area.”

Although the Ellis Brown Viaduct over the uMngeni River was built in the 1950s, Esteves said the assessment that was done after the collapse had ruled out age or structural degradation as the cause.

The municipality had plans to stabilise and repair the surrounding beams, he said, adding that the support beams that had collapsed would be assessed to establish if they could be reused. A contractor would then be sourced to begin the reconstruction.

However, Esteves said because of the complexity of the process, it would be at least a year before the section could be reinstated. The municipality was also looking at ways to curb further theft.

“We assume that they were trying to get to the metal component and we are therefore considering encasing these stainless steel connectors in concrete,” he said.

Meanwhile, pedestrians will not be allowed to use the affected side of the southbound carriageway, the left lane will be closed to motorists with one lane remaining open.

Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, said police had been stationed in the area during peak periods to control the traffic. - Daily News

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