Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - Cross Joburg’s bridges at your peril - only 5.7% are in an acceptable infrastructural condition.

Making this “gloomy” announcement earlier this week, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said the city’s infrastructure backlog - which stands at R170 billion - “is on the verge of collapse”.

He said urgent action and a substantial financial injection is needed to stop the city falling apart.

Since 2013, 37 bridges have collapsed during the rainy season. Funding of R65bn is needed to repair them, but only R140 million has been budgeted for bridge repairs.

And the 2017 roads index shows the condition of the network has deteriorated from 89% in 2013 to 64%.

Some 40% of the city’s pavements are in “poor” condition with 24% in a “very poor” state.

Disclosing these shocking figures, the Johannesburg Roads Agency’s member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for transport, Helen Makhuba, said these backlogs resulted in potholes, sinkholes, dangerous road surfaces, impaired pedestrian safety, flooding and the collapse of dams.

Vandalism has cost the department R12.3m.

City Power, too, said it is in trouble with backlogs. The MMC for infrastructure development, Nico de Jager, said the high risk areas included the inner city, Roodepoort, Reuven, Hursthill, Roosevelt Park and Cleveland.

Improvement work on the electrical supply network has been done in Lenasia, Midrand and Randburg.

About 2250 underground cables of the 6300 are older than 45 years.

The utility has spent R76m on security measures during 2016/17 for its electricity installations and substations, and this is expected to rise to R161m. Some 2000 incidents of theft and vandalism have been reported.

De Jager said the utility is evaluating alternative funding models, intensifying maintenance, monitoring high-risk equipment and looking at setting up mobile substations.

Joburg Water also has infrastructure backlogs. Burst pipes have increased from 35539 to 45177 since 2012/13.

De Jager said this was an indictment of the utility’s “failure to recognise the necessity of maintenance”.

About 4000 brass meters stolen during the 2016/17 financial year are being replaced with plastic ones.

“We are working with community policing forums to increase police visibility. We are also working with City Power to ensure all our wastewater treatment works are provided with additional power-supply sources.”

Remedial short-term solutions for Joburg Water include the establishment of three standby teams per depot to respond to water outages, improved pressure management, and carrying out a preventative maintenance programme covering 1000km a year.

The ANC, who the mayor accused of causing the backlogs because of poor planning, said a lot of capital expenditure and maintenance work had been carried out during its term in office.

ANC Joburg spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said Mashaba “lacks an understanding and appreciation of the work done by the ANC government in Joburg over 20 years”.

The Star