Concern over sewerage risks as workers plan lifting collapsed water line bridge

2014-06-19 00:00

THE collapsed suspension bridge that carried a major water line across the Umgeni River is resting on a sewerage pipe servicing western Durban.

And authorities are concerned that the bridge — which runs roughly 250 metres — is sitting in the Umgeni riverbed and the remainder is suspended. It could also fall and damage the remaining pipes that are the mayor suppliers of water to the entire northern regions of Durban.

Workers on site told The Witness that the job “was risky”.

A high-level meeting was held yesterday to discuss how to bring the bridge safely to the ground.

Last week Monday the suspended bridge collapsed after it had been pillaged of nine suspension cables believed to have been stolen for scrap. The pipeline carried 40% of the northern Durban’s water needs.

The Witness also reported that theft-related maintenance represented 50% of all maintenance work done by eThekwini water and the cables stolen would have only fetched R90, while the repair of the water line would cost an estimated R5 million.

A new pipe was connected on Sunday restoring normal water supply.

Icon Construction contract manager Peter Hope said the bridge must be lifted off the sewer pipe.

“This is a difficult job and while it is being removed and lifted off the sewer pipe the team doing this job must maintain control. There’s about a 30-metre gap between the broken bridge and the bridge holding the new pipeline with the suspended bridge at its highest point being about 25 metres. They can’t move the sewer pipe. If the bridge falls uncontrollably it might pull out the sewer line altogether. The supporting concrete pillars will also need to be taken down.”

City water head Neil Macleod said they can’t “just cut” the bridge.

“If we just cut it we don’t know which way it will fall. Anchors must be attached to stabilise the structure,” he said.

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