Backhoe crashes in

2014-02-10 00:00

PASSENGERS in a taxi had a narrow escape of a different kind when a runaway construction backhoe narrowly missed them before crashing into a house in Ashdown. It is alleged that the engine on the heavy duty vehicle cut out.

The taxi had just stopped at the corner of the road when the backhoe came hurtling down Dabulamanzi Road.

Eyewitness Sipho Mlambo said he had just stepped from the taxi when the backhoe crashed.

“We were lucky that the taxi did not stop at its usual spot, because then it would have been a huge accident. The [backhoe] came flying past down the road, and the next thing there was this big bang as it crashed into the house,” Mlambo said.

No one was at home at the time.

He remembers at least seven other accidents at the same scene, as taxis and cars fail to turn the corner. “One bad one was when one man died and others were injured when a taxi crashed through the railings and landed in the yard,” he said.

The owner of the house, Jabulani Mtolo, lives in Durban. One of the housekeepers, Phindile Mdunge, said she was away taking her sister’s children to crèche. She saw the backhoe pass, but thought nothing of it till she got back home.

“I am just happy no one was at the house,” said Mdunge.

She added the electricity also cut out as the backhoe hit an electricity pole. “The furniture in the house was also destroyed by the backhoe,” said Mdunge.

Mtolo said on the weekend he was anxious to drive back to Pietermaritzburg as he was not sure what he would find when he got there. “I will wait for insurance people to do an assessment as well. I am also going to meet with the local councillor today to find out what they can do about the road,” said Mtolo.

Bongani Kheswa, Mtolo’s brother, said the house will need the be completely rebuilt. “The sitting room and kitchen of the house are the worst affected, but there are cracks in the walls in the other rooms as well,” said Kheswa.

Resident Dumisani Mbanjwa, who was also witnessed the accident, said there was nothing the driver could have done “as the backhoe’s engine was off”.

“There is something that needs to be done about the houses down that side of the road. Even if it means that they are relocated, because it’s not safe for residents,” said Mbanjwa.

Ward councillor Dumsani Phungula said they have reported the incident to the municipality’s relevant departments for interventions.

“Road safety are assessing and they will give us a report on what should be done with that part of the road,” said Phungula.

He added that community members should make sure that when the accidents happen, they report it to the municipality and take pictures as of the scene as evidence.

Vulamehlo Construction manager Ravi Govender declined to give comment, saying only that “it was an accident”.

The driver was admitted to hospital.

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