Gigantic sinkhole appears on N3

2015-03-20 13:17
Traffic police stand near a two-metre deep sinkhole on the N3 highway in Pietermaritzburg. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Traffic police stand near a two-metre deep sinkhole on the N3 highway in Pietermaritzburg. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

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Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - A massive sinkhole over two metres deep and three metres wide appeared on the N3 highway in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, leading to the closure of one of the busy freeway's lanes.

The Durban-bound portion of the road near the Peter Brown offramp has been repaired numerous times, but it collapsed when a bus travelling over the sunken area collided with a truck in the early hours of Thursday.

Easter weekend

WBHO engineer Jacques Grobler, who has been contracted to repair the sinkhole, said he was hoping to fix the portion of road before the Easter weekend.

“We had a machine on site this morning to start excavating the bottom of the sinkhole and to investigate the problem.”

He said once they identified the cause of the collapse, they would build up the hole layer by layer and “try to repair it before the Easter weekend”.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said the hole was 2.4 metres deep and would easily swallow the nose end of a car.

Photos of the sinkhole were plastered all over social media as local residents and travellers shared concerns over the collapsed portion of road.

Danger

Comments poured in on The Witness's Facebook page from locals who said they had hit the sunken patch of road days before it collapsed.

Local Andries Keyser said he hit the sunken patch of road on Monday whilst towing an empty bulk fuel trailer behind his bakkie.

“There was a few split seconds where my vehicle was less of a bakkie and more of a light cargo aircraft,” he said.

Another local, Yolanda Jacobs Ogilvie, said whilst driving over the sunken portion of road, she could feel the road was not stable.

“I drove over that patch one million times going home and you could feel something was up as it really knocked your car when you hit it.”

To add to the congestion caused by the sinkhole on Thursday, a truck overturned a few metres behind the sinkhole, causing a two-kilometre traffic jam.

Mngomezulu said the truck lane was closed for almost two hours as a tow truck worked to remove the damaged vehicle.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  transport

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