Several city roads in the southern suburbs are now sinking due to illegal mining by the zama zamas who are digging under roads to mine for gold. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Several city roads in the southern suburbs are now sinking due to illegal mining by the zama zamas who are digging under roads to mine for gold. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

Joburg roads collapsing due to illegal miners digging underground for gold

By Anna Cox Time of article published May 14, 2021

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Johannesburg - The City of Joburg roads are not only crumbling from the exterior with potholes, but from the interior as well.

Several city roads in the southern suburbs are now sinking due to illegal mining by the zama zamas who are digging under roads to mine for gold.

The Wemmer Pan Road, one of the main roads from the city’s CBD to the southern suburbs, and which is also widely used by pedestrians, is collapsing and now has craters and damaged storm water drains.

Councillor Faeeze Chame said she was alerted by residents about th The miners are digging directly under the road which is swiftly causing it to sinkree weeks ago about a major collapse in the road.

“Myself and councillor Michael Crichton went to go and see for ourselves.. It is a danger who motorists and pedestrians and is a disaster waiting to happen,” she said.

A sinkhole has also been reported in Vickers Road.

“All the JRA do is come and fill these holes with old tyres and warning tape,” she said.

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) confirmed the collapse of the road. Spokesperson Mosa Makhalima said the miners were using a lot of water which causes the soil “to be mushy”.

The JRA used to backfill and compact the road, but this is no longer feasible due to the extent of the holes underground and mushiness, she said.

The agency will be appointing a consultant to carry out an investigation and advise on the way forward.

“For now, the JRA will secure the road by closing lanes going to Rosettenville and to the Joburg CBD and this will operate for both traffic going north and south. Road markings and traffic signs will be put into place. The JRA teams will also install guardrails and put up warnings for motorists about the lane closure,” she added.

In 2017, former Joburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, sent an urgent letter to the Department of Mineral Resources about the danger that illegal mining poses to the city. He warned that the World Cup stadium at Nasrec, and other landmarks are at risk, as illegal miners were tunnelling under the city close to fuel and gas pipes, raising the danger of buildings collapsing and deadly explosions.

The city recently announced a partnership with Discovery Insure and Dial Direct Insurance for funding to repair potholes.

This aims at managing the repair of potholes throughout the city and will also form part of the 120 days of accelerated service delivery that the city recently embarked on, with potholes being one of main issues being tackled in all seven regions.

The Star

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