BY MATTHEW SAVIDES
Transport minister Joe Maswanganyi on Thursday morning visited the site of the N3 bridge collapse‚ just hours after the road was opened well ahead of schedule.
Initially‚ it was estimated that the highway – which was completely blocked in both directions near the Geldenhuys interchange – was expected to be closed for two days. But demolition teams and clean-up crews had it cleared and open to traffic by 6am on Thursday.
Maswanganyi was on the site shortly before 7am‚ conducting an inspection with members of the SANRAL board‚ the SANRAL CEO Nazir Alli‚ senior officials of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport‚ and the Ekurhuleni Municipality.
Meanwhile‚ SANRAL confirmed that its teams worked through the night to have the road cleared.
“SANRAL engineers and its demolition team worked flat out yesterday until just past midnight to break down the remainder of the collapsed bridge and remove the rubble from the scene. “This is a high volume traffic road with almost 200‚000 vehicles passing through per day. Keeping the road closed on a normal business day would have frustrated many motorists. We are relieved that we managed to clear the debris and open the road in less than the 48 hours we had anticipated‚” SANRAL spokesperson Vusi Mona said. Mona also wished the five people injured in the collapse a speedy recovery.
The exact cause of the bridge collapse is being investigated‚ but there is speculation that it was linked to an earth tremor caused by an illegal mine collapsing or by a truck crashing into the disused pedestrian bridge.