The rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Lilian Ngoyi Street gas explosion site has officially resumed following reports that work had stalled with little to no progress more than six months since the blast.
On Thursday, Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda announced that the project plan implemented to repair parts of Lilian Ngoyi street, formerly Bree Street, which was affected by the gas blast last July will be completed by December 15 this year.
This week, DA caucus leader in the City of Joburg, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, said the party was concerned about the stalled progress at the site. She described the site as a “disaster zone” following the party’s recent visit there.
“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,” she had said.
However, on Thursday, during a media briefing, Gwamanda indicated that repair work had returned in full effect this week.
Gwamanda, who addressed the media in Braamfontein, said a contractor has been appointed to oversee the rehabilitation process.
“As of today, we have a contractor on site who has been appointed to conduct the following: The excavation and removal of the rubble and damaged infrastructure. The demolition and removal of the service tunnels. The construction and replacement of the tunnels and infrastructure. The installation of modern health and safety structures to mitigate the risks of similar incidents in the future,” he said.
Last year, the city confirmed 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.
The blast resulted in the death of one person, 48 injured as well as well damage to a number of vehicles and several properties.
The mayor said the construction phase of the project will help deliver employment opportunities for at least 80 citizens of the city.
“As with all city led developments, the construction phase of this project will deliver critical employment opportunities for an estimated 80 residents and business opportunities for several small, micro and medium enterprises. This is just the beginning of a new era for Lilian Ngoyi Street,” he said.
According to the mayor, the planning and design stages, were initiated on August 22 and were concluded on November 20 last year.
He said this phase of the project encompassed crucial steps which included identifying impacted services, allocating budgets, and appointing a professional services provider which will cost the city R196 million. “The city is investing R196 million in professional fees and construction costs to cover roadworks, stormwater and services infrastructure, electrical, mechanical, and structural works.
“The construction period spans from 11 January 2024 to 15 December 2024, with stringent oversight by the JRA to ensure adherence to timelines.
“Simultaneously, the city has submitted a disaster declaration application, seeking funding for the rehabilitation work. Despite the ongoing finalisation process with the province, we recognise the urgency and have reallocated our budget to expedite rehabilitation efforts,” he said.