Drivers defy closure of bridge

2013-12-24 00:00

SINCE last week, the notorious Woodhouse Road low-level bridge near Sobantu — that almost claimed five lives earlier this month — has been permanently closed. However, people have been removing the barricades and breaking the boom gate locks to cross over the bridge and take a short-cut from the northern suburbs to Scottsville.

Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the municipality’s senior management committee (SMC) took a resolution to permanently close the bridge. This comes after five people survived a potentially fatal incident when their car drove off the low-level bridge on the Day of Reconciliation. She said the decision to close was effective from December 18.

However, The Witness team visited the site yesterday and found the barricades removed and cars crossing the bridge despite the fact that there was water lapping over the sides.

Madonda said barricades had been placed to close the bridge and more signage has been put up. “Unfortunately people have ignored the signage and they even broke the gate and removed the barricades,” she said.

Madonda said the plan for the new year was to put up a more secure structure. However, there are still long-term plans to upgrade the bridge so that it can be used by motorists. “In the meantime we will use temporary barricades and a staff member will monitor the situation and make sure that the gate is locked all the time,” she said.

Yesterday, an abusive resident who did not want to be named called The Witness and argued about the closure, saying the community was not consulted.

“We have people that don’t drive but use this bridge to get to their place of work and how are they going to do that with the municipality having taken a blanket approach to this?” he said.

However, Madonda responded by saying that a resolution was taken since it is the rainy season to shut down the bridge, and it will remain closed until a permanent solution has been found to ensure safe use by the public.

“During this period people get drunk and are irresponsible so for their safety we took a resolution to close the bridge before another life is lost,” she said.

Thabani Mkhize lauded the closure. He commented on his Face­book page that people like to put themselves at risk and then blame the government.

“I don’t know how many times people have been told not to drive through the Woodhouse low-bridge when it rains due to potential flooding,” he said.

He asked, “Why risk your life when you could simply drive on the freeway and take the safe exit?” Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela assured Sobantu residents after the near mishap on December 16 that the municipality was looking for funds to upgrade the bridge.


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