- A resident drove into a ditch, which was dug by Joburg Water workers but never covered up again.
- The entity said it had taken over the repair of trenches from the Joburg Roads Agency.
- Residents have complained that the trenches have become a hazard to drivers.
A car fell into one of the trenches which Johannesburg Water had created, but did not fill, just days after the entity said that it had filled 15 205 trenches.
The incident, from which the man escaped unharmed by crawling out of his car through the driver's side window, happened in Glenhazel after the bulk water supplier dug two ditches to try to fix a leak in the residential area.
Residents have increasingly been complaining about the state of the roads and how trenches, once dug, are not covered up again. A number of these projects litter the city's roads.
"I told my kids, 'someone's going to drive into it'," a resident, who did not want to be named, told News24.
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She, like her neighbours, was relaxing that evening when the crash-bang rang out into the night. The woman knew what had happened before she went to look.
"If someone doesn't close it up, there will be an accident, I said. I knew, with the way people were driving past, they were so impatient."
The resident said both trenches were dug after a complaint about a burst water pipe on Friday.
They said on Monday evening, heavy machinery arrived to dig the trenches – and, on Tuesday, the burst pipe was fixed. But the trenches were not filled in.
Tape to demarcate trench
According to a couple who live on the street, the first trench on the corner of Peglynn Road and Northfield Avenue had just the Joburg Water tape to demarcate the trench. Ten metres down Northfield Avenue, the second ditch had tape and a yellow bollard standing in front of the hole.
They said that, at 21:30, a man in a red vehicle, who lives just around the corner, came from the Peglynn Road side and crashed into the ditch.
"There was only tape [around the trench]. Luckily, he is fine, and he crawled out through the driver window."
They said private security and a private ambulance came almost immediately.
They said the barriers, traffic warnings and other signs went up in the morning, but not right away. Tree branches – which were on scene when News24 visited on Wednesday – had been used that night to warn drivers of the ditch.
"It shows the level of management and lack of sticking to rules in [this] country," the couple commented.
Filling and fixing of holes
"[After the pipes were fixed] they could have pushed sand back into the trench with bulldozers and added signs and bollards. I don't know why it took someone falling in to fix the signage on the road," they said.
News24 has reached out to Joburg Water and their comment will be added once received.
It is understood that it is common practice for the trenches to remain open for a few days after the repair, to ensure the leaks have been fixed.
Meanwhile, before 1 July 2022, the protocol for leaks affecting road infrastructure was to have Joburg Water dig the ditch and fix the water issues. Once fixed, the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) was mandated to restore the infrastructure.
It announced that in-house technical teams had completed 15 205 reinstatements since July, which included small-scale restoration work on tarmac, paved, and concrete surfaces, backfilling, as well as the building of small valve boxes and chambers. A further 200 reinstatement jobs were done by contractors.
The entity refers to the filling and fixing of holes as reinstatements.
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Last week, Joburg Water called a press conference to give perspective to what the entity is doing about reinstatements around the city.
"[A] decision was taken that Johannesburg Water would take over the responsibility of performing reinstatements on tarmac, paved, concrete, and stone surfaces. There are also grass surfaces that require minor reinstatement work that involves backfilling and compacting to normal ground level," senior operations manager Logan Munsamy said at the time.
The city has 10 depots across its seven regions to undertake service delivery issues. Each depot has around four reinstatement teams that perform minor reinstatement works, such as small-scale paving, concreting of surfaces, backfilling, and compaction. They are also geared up with the necessary skills and equipment to undertake small-scale reinstatement works.
"We have received some complaints about substandard workmanship or the slow pace at which some of the work is carried out. When we do become aware of such situations, we manage it according to our contract management process," Munsamy added at the time.
"This is indeed a mammoth task, but we are making progress slowly, but surely. We do have our challenges, but we intend to build more capacity as we go along. We have to be realistic about the backlog thus far, which cannot be eradicated overnight either, but is being prioritised as it affects the safety of pedestrians and vehicle owners, as well as traffic flow management."
He said the infrastructure in most suburbs was old, "hence the frequency of repairs occurring more often than before. We do have capital upgrades every financial year, which we use to prioritise the most urgent jobs."