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Inquiry starts into collapsed bridge on Grayston Drive

by Karl Gernetzky and Roxanne Henderson

 

The first day of the Department of Labour’s inquiry into the M1 bridge collapse in Johannesburg in October kicked off with the two companies at the centre of the probe unable to agree on who was responsible for the structure’s design.

 

The support structure of the bridge on Grayston Drive collapsed on October 14 last year, killing two people.

 

Commissioner Lennie Samuel, a departmental forensic investigator and co-commissioner in the Tongaat Mall Structural Collapse Inquiry, on Tuesday asked Murray and Roberts (M&R), Form-Scaff, Royal HaskoningDHV and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) to explain their involvement in the construction of the pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

 

M&R, the main contractor, told the inquiry it was responsible for erecting the temporary structure, including scaffolding and super beams.

 

The temporary structure, which was to be used to support construction work on the permanent bridge, would be removed from the site after the bridge’s completion, the inquiry heard.

 

But the firm’s legal representative, Richard Hoal, said that Form-Scaff, a company M&R had subcontracted to assist with the project, was responsible for the temporary structure’s design. Form-Scaff denied this, saying it had provided only the material, but was not responsible for the design.

 

Advocate Ewan Rudolph, counsel for Form-Scaff, said the company would not have agreed to take responsibility for the design or the construction, because it does not have an engineer in its employ.

 

Mr Rudolph said Form-Scaff had liaised often with M&R engineer Roger Barker, who assumed responsibility for the design, inspection and approval of the structure.

 

Siyabonga Genu, senior development manager at the JDA, said it was responsible for the project in its entirety and employed M&R to carry out all the construction work; engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV to prepare the bridge’s specification drawings; and Nemai Consulting to ensure that safety and health standards were met.

 

Mr Genu said it was discovered at a meeting after the collapse that two bolts were missing in the structure. But none of the parties could provide a reason for the collapse.

 

The parties have until next month to submit their reports to the inquiry. Hearings are expected to resume in April.

 

Article published with the kind courtesy of www.bdlive.co.za

 

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