INFRASTRUCTURE

Bridges of hope

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The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Mpho Parks Tau,  launched the 2015/16 Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) Flagship Bridge Programme as part of the 2014 SOCA R110 billion infrastructure programme.

As part of the Executive Mayor’s Stakeholder Engagement programme, the JRA will be showcasing a number of projects to highlight service delivery success and infrastructural investments towards world-class standards. These projects will showcase that indeed the city is under construction, moving towards enhancing the lives of its residents.

Parks Tau said at the launch of the project, once completed, the City of Johannesburg will benefit from the improved infrastructure and look forward to improved mobility. Some of these projects include bridge construction and rehabilitation, including rehabilitation of bridges on the M1 and M2 freeways to name a few. This bridge construction and rehabilitation programme will necessitate the closure of several roads, which will impact the flow of traffic in and around the city.

“This investment in infrastructure is an essential part of the broader commitment the city has made to allocate R110 billion for the upgrading of infrastructure over a 10 year period and, thus, to ensure our world class African city has world-class physical infrastructure to support future economic growth and development.

“As part of the infrastructure investment programme the city investigated the state and the quality of the 814 bridges within Johannesburg with a combined asset value of R15 billion. The conclusion of our assessment was that many of these bridges require extensive rehabilitation for reasons of upgrading and to bring safety and structural features in line with modern engineering trends,” he said.

In other cases, traffic and settlement patterns in the areas have changed since the original construction and the bridges are not sufficiently wide or adequately strengthened to carry the projected loads for the future.

One of the most visible projects will be the construction and rehabilitation off bridges on the M1 freeway. Work on these projects will commence in September and is expected to cost more than R200 million. It includes extensive rehabilitation work of the Oxford Bridge and the Federation Bridge as well as the double decker section on the M1, a part of the freeway that is prone to flooding and an endless source off frustration for commuters during the rainy season.

The programme will also address concerns and issues raised in communities about the damage caused by flooding in other areas of the city. In the past few years the city has experienced a number of severe weather conditions resulting in heavy rains and flooding of low lying areas.

Park Tau said as recently as 2011 parts of the city together with other municipalities had to be declared disaster areas because of the impact of flooding. “Every subsequent year we have had sporadic occurrences where the city has to put out flood alerts and send in teams of first responders to assist people who may have been caught in swirling water caused by overthrowing, rivers, streams and storm water systems.”

He said hosting the C40 Summit last year has elevated Johannesburg into one of the primary global cities that provide thought leadership and innovation on issues such as climate change, sustainable management of natural resources and eco-friendly transport systems.

Parks Tau said he is pleased that the construction of the Naledi Bridge, that links Naledi and Protea, is progressing well, following the start in June 2014. “The lack of a proper bridge crossing for residents of these two suburbs that live within a stones throw of each other – yet separated by a railway line - has long been a bone of contention and served as an example of the madness of apartheid spatial planning.

“As Professor Philip Harrison indicated in his seminal work on this subject: Planning and transformation - Learning from the post apartheid experience, the master plan went beyond separating people on the basis of race and skin color in our cities and towns. There was also a specific intention to prevent black communities from establishing healthy social and family structures and engage in the normal interaction that one would expect to find within stable societies. This was deliberately done to enforce the notion that black people were temporary sojourners in so-called white cities with no political, economic or social rights.

Parks Tau said the urban areas not only reflected disadvantage, but entrenched it, as the poor was forced into long and expensive daily trips to work and shops, or were physically trapped in areas where there was little possibility of generating an income.

“Thus, construction of the Naledi Bridge will not only create a safe and accessible facility for residents of Soweto who no longer have to take a 10 km detour to complete a five minute journey; it will also, empathically close a chapter of the apartheid legacy and open another era in our quest to build a United Johannesburg according to our hearts’ desire,” he concluded.

Ameera Daniels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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