DA calls for probe, Sanral responds

Two of several cars which were washed down the Eastleigh Spruit during the November 2016 floods.

The Democratic Alliance has called on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

Member of Parliament Mike Waters alleged that the agency failed to ensure proper culvert maintenance along the N3 highway.

A section of the spruit, which runs through Edenvale, flooded by the heavy rains of November 2016.

These allegations come after six people died during the November 2016 floods.

“A blockage at one of the culvert inlets led to water flooding a section of the N3,” said Waters.

According to Waters, the culverts along the N3 are in a “poor condition”.

Also read: MULTIMEDIA: Videos and Gallery from November 9 #floods

He said some of them have been turned into living quarters for vagrants.

“It is unacceptable that the situation was allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it led to lives being lost,” said Waters.

An investigation into the 2016 floods was conducted by Sanral.

The investigation assessed the R24/N12, Linksfield and Gillooly’s interchanges.

“Sanral’s report revealed that the R24/N12 culvert system is inadequate,” said Waters.

“The system ought to accommodate a once-in-80-year flood.”

In response to the allegations, Vusi Mona, general manager of communications at Sanral, said the investigation concluded that the 2016 flood was a once-in-200-year flood.

Also read: November 9 floods exacerbated by blocked culvert – parliamentary inquiry finds

“The investigation of the interchanges indicated that the culverts and channels were adequate but were simply overloaded,” said Mona.

“The routine maintenance contractor said the system was clear of debris before the flood.”

Two of several cars which were washed down the Eastleigh Spruit during the November 2016 floods.

Mona added that the debris brought into the culverts by the 2016 flood was removed.

Through the investigation, Sanral discovered the pipe at the Gillooly’s interchange on-ramp was too small.

Mona said a larger pipe will be installed, and that installation should take place during the winter months this year.

A section of highway under water during the floods of November 2016.

Mona added that the improvement to Gillooly’s would have a “minimal effect” on traffic.

“At Linksfield no improvements are planned as the drainage system is considered to be adequate.”

To prevent future flooding, Sanral maintains the system frequently.

Also read: WATCH: Edenvale flooded again

Mona said maintenance patrols are conducted weekly by contractors, especially after heavy rains.

In addition to removing debris, Sanral removes blockages left by vagrants.

“By removing their belongings, vagrants are discouraged from using the stormwater system.”

A firefighter working on the wreck of a car found in the Edenvale Spruit near Sixth Avenue. The car belonged to Caroline Sithole. Sithole and her unborn child died during the floods. Her body was found near Dickie Fritz Avenue. The car was washed into the spruit during the heavy rains of November 2016.

Mona said the only way to prevent vagrants from seeking shelter in the culverts is to conduct maintenance patrols.

“If Sanral were to install metal grids on the culverts it would prevent the maintenance teams from accessing the system.”

If grids were installed they would also contribute to future flooding, Mona said, as debris washed down by the rains would block the grids and prevent water from entering the culvert system.

  AUTHOR
Stephan Lehman

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