Dead end? Just what is going on with the M2 highway in Joburg?
Leaked minutes from a City of Joburg meeting suggest not much has been done since its closure in February
A leaked document from the City of Joburg (CoJ) seems to suggest that no work had been done in the three months since the M2 highway was closed for rehabilitation – but the Johanesburg Roads Agency denies this.
An internal memo of minutes dated May 10, show a brief discussion on how a CoJ communications meeting discussed putting a spin on the story, with suggestions of telling the public about the “behind the scenes work” on the project and the tender process.
During a visit to the bridge by Times Select this week, there were no construction workers in sight and homeless people – who were evicted before work started on the site – were living underneath the bridge again.
But Johannesburg Roads Agency spokesperson Zoleka Jika said a quarter of the work had already been done since the bridge between Crown Interchange and Maritzburg Street was closed in February, causing huge traffic congestion in and around town.
He said the demolition of the failed bridge structural elements was 90% complete, and the installation of a screw jack system at Selby Bridge had been completed.
Jika said the removal of the blacktop paving to allow for further drainage investigation was currently underway.
“The overall the project is on schedule and will be completed by 30 October 2019 as planned,” she said.
With regards to the leaked minutes from the communication meeting by the “CoJ Newsroom”, Jika said the JRA was not aware of such a meeting happening on May 10 2019 where the progress – or lack thereof – was discussed.
“It is therefore not possible to comment on a meeting that we are not privy to,” said Jika.
Jika said Stefanutti Stocks were appointed to work on the bridge.
The scope of work included:
Demolition of existing bridge elements;
Design and installation of jacking system on eight drop-in deck slabs;
Reconstruction of bridge elements;
Installation of new bridge bearings and joints;
Milling of asphalt;
Durability treatment of new and old concrete;
Installation of new barriers and guardrails; and
Refurbishment of existing stormwater drainage system.
The highway closure has affected businesses in the CBD, particularly banks which have had to beef up security measures.
Absa spokesperson Phumza Macanda said it had substantially increased the number of security guards around the CBD.
“The closure increased congestion within the CBD as it forced our colleagues to use roads in the CBD. As a result, they found themselves being stuck in traffic, which was an opportunity for criminals. We observed an increase in the number of smash-and-grab incidents and attempted hijackings reported by colleagues,” Macanda said.
Macanda said they had also extended the hours that the security guards cover the CBD area.
“Absa has also deployed tactical security vehicles to escort staff out of the CBD after hours, and we have placed security officers on shuttles driving in and out of the city,” she said.
Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom said the bank had been notified that the full closure would remain in force until the end of October 2019.
“Standard Bank and other businesses within the CBD are working closely and in collaboration with JMPD and SAPS, to implement a security and response plan that aims to minimise the impact on traffic congestion and improve safety for our staff and other employees that work within the CBD,” said Linstrom.
The motorway will remain completely closed until the end of October 2019.
Motorists using the busy Booysens, Main Reef, Simmonds and Heidelberg routes are among those affected, since the on-ramps will be closed.
The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) previously flagged its concern that of the 902 bridges managed by the city, only 6% were in good condition – 94% needed immediate intervention.
A staggering R6.5bn is needed to refurbish all the city's bridges – money the city does not have, according to Mashaba.
TimesLIVE reported in 2018 that the city was facing an overall R170bn infrastructure backlog and that the bridges on the M2 were of particular concern.
Last month, senior managers at the Johannesburg Roads Agency were suspended after a series of forensic investigations found they had flouted provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Jika said senior managers who are alleged to have flouted those provisions had been suspended and charged, and disciplinary processes were under way.
“We will update you as soon as we have the outcome of the DC process,” she said.
Independent engineer Sisanda Dyubele told Times Select that judging by the amount of work that still needed to be done, the JRA might not be able complete the work that had been commissioned.
“I need to do a thorough inspection, including the work plan, to be able to give a proper assessment,” Dyubele added.
In response to questions from Times Select, the CoJ called a media conference for Thursday morning to address the matter...