DA concerned over Joburg explosion site ‘stalled’ construction

Police and other emergency services asses the extent of the damage that rocked the Joburg CBD on July 20 last year. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency

Police and other emergency services asses the extent of the damage that rocked the Joburg CBD on July 20 last year. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency

Published Jan 10, 2024


DA caucus leader in the City of Joburg, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, says the party is concerned about the stalled progress at the Lillian Ngoyi Street (formerly Bree Street) gas explosion site which she has described as a “disaster zone”.

“The state of the Bree Street explosion site in the Johannesburg Central Business District is an unequivocal disaster. Our recent oversight visit to the site revealed a scene of unmitigated destruction, with no progress evident even after more than half a year.”

It was reported that the explosion was caused by a small leak in Egoli Gas-managed servitude pipeline at the intersection of Bree and Eloff streets on a 100-millimetre pipeline.

More than six months since the explosion, Kayser-Echeozonjoku said during her recent site visit to the site, there was no worker or city official at the site.

“It is utterly perplexing that neither a single worker nor city official was present at the site during our visit. After an hour of inactivity, our mere presence prompted a flurry of actions by city officials, who accomplished nothing beyond appearing busy,” Kayser-Echeozonjoku said.

The caucus leader says the inaction is due to the failure by the coalition responsible for the city to manage its affairs and effect service delivery properly.

“This inaction is emblematic of the Doomsday Coalition’s consistent failure to address the pressing needs of residents. The Bree Street explosion site remains a glaring testament to their inability to provide essential services.

“What is even more distressing is that the damage sustained during the explosion has worsened, exacerbated by the recent flooding in December. Shop owners in the vicinity confirmed not only the flooding of their businesses but also the subsequent dismissal of employees due to financial constraints caused by the decline in business,” she said.

According to Kayser-Echeozonjoku, businesses and residents are battling with increased crime levels in the vicinity due to road closures as well as the recent floods.

“The situation is further aggravated by the crime wave that has engulfed the area. Despite promises from the inactive executive to enhance security with 5 000 cameras across the city, not a single camera was in sight. Once again, the residents of Johannesburg are left to fend for themselves.

“While flood-damaged bridges in the Western Cape are swiftly repaired, Johannesburg remains stagnant, and the executive must be held accountable for the mess the city is in,” she said.

Kayser-Echeozonjoku said the DA will continue to seek answers from authorities entrusted with managing the affairs of the residents of the city.

“The executive must answer for the havoc wreaked upon the residents of Johannesburg, and the DA will be demanding answers. It is unacceptable to leave thousands who depended on the Bree Street area to fend for themselves, and the time for action is long overdue,” she added.

Attempts to get comment from the city were still unsuccessful at the time of publication; it will be added once available.

In his last address to the residents, city manager Floyd Brink confirmed that the explosion was caused by methane gas, adding that it would cost over R178 million to repair.

“Our rough estimate for repairs currently sits at R178m. This estimate might change once we receive the detailed designs for the entire project. In the interest of transparency, it is important to report to residents of Johannesburg that the city has so far spent around R4m in this project on professional experts’ services, cordoning off the site, technology used and the provision of temporary relief services in a form of water tankers and temporary ablution services,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda will on Thursday address the media on the rehabilitation programme of Lillian Ngoyi Street.