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Grayston Bridge: bolts missing before collapse

Grayston bridge collapse. Photo: ER24

Grayston bridge collapse. Photo: ER24

Published Feb 16, 2016


Johannesburg – Questions about missing bolts and who was directly responsible for the collapsed Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge emerged at the inquiry as contractors pointed fingers at each other on Tuesday.

Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) senior development manager Siyabonga Genu said the JDA had contracted Murray & Roberts to oversee construction of the 290-metre long bridge.

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Consultations and progress meetings took place between main contractor Murray & Roberts and his organisation to ensure health and safety compliance during and after the construction.

He added that at one of the meetings at M&R offices in October 2015, a few days before the bridge collapsed, one of the engineers indicated there were “missing bolts” at the bridge.

“At the meeting, which included representatives of Form-Scaff, the issue of the missing set of bolts was discussed. However, those present at the meeting were assured that the missing bolts would not affect the structural integrity of the temporary bridge,” said Genu.

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Two people were killed and 19 injured in the collapse in October last year.

The inquiry, chaired by Lennie Samuels, was receiving submissions from main contractor Murray & Roberts, Form-Scaff, which was subcontracted by M&R to build the structure, and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), responsible for the project on behalf of City of Johannesburg.

The inquiry was yet to call witnesses, and only submissions were put on record on Tuesday.

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Willem Le Roux, a mine and occupational health expert at the inquiry, on behalf of JDA, told Samuels it was important to find out what caused the collapse and how many bolts were missing from the bridge.

“It is crucial that we establish these facts, otherwise we will not conclude this inquiry,” he said.

In his submission, legal representative for Form-Scaff, Ewan Rudolph, denied that his client was responsible for the design and erection of the bridge. The company supplied materials to be used in the construction.

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“Form-Scaff never developed the original methodologies, designs or erected the structure. Form-Scaff stressed at one of the meetings with M&R that it was important that M&R appoint a professional engineer to oversee the responsibility for the design, inspection and approval of the temporary works in compliance with regulations.”

According to Rudolph, Form-Scaff suggested the employment of independent engineer, a Mr Benackie, to which M&R indicated it was not necessary and said Mr Roger Backer of M&R, who is also an engineer was appointed to oversee responsibility for the design, inspection and approval of the structure.

“The cause of collapse is not known to Form-Scaff,” Rudolph said.

M&R designed the bridge, and thereafter Form-Scaff assembled the structure as per M&R design at its premises in Johannesburg. The assembled structure was then transported to the site where M&R took over and built the bridge, explained Rudolph.

Samuels said the first duty for the commission was to establish what caused the collapse and to set out measures to prevent such an incident from happening again.

The inquiry is set to get underway on 19 April at a venue still to be confirmed. Witnesses, the injured and families of those who were killed would be called to present their statements and answer questions.

African News Agency

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