Joburg road closed due to damage caused by illegal mining – and there are worries things could get much worse

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has urgently closed a street in the city’s West Rand due to illegal mining.

The agency said that it closed Iridium Street between Randfontein Road and Penny Road in Roodepoort from traffic as illegal mining activities in the vicinity have contributed immensely to the deterioration of the road pavement structure.

“Holes dug by illegal miners have resulted in ponding when it rains and this has undermined the pavement structure of the road,” it said.

“In addition, the structural integrity of the road has been seriously affected and posed serious risk for motorists and other road users. The JRA will endeavour to prioritise the rehabilitation and reconstruction of this road during the 2019/20 financial year. ”

The agency said the closure will be in force until June 2020 when the road is repaired.  Road users and affected communities will be notified in due course as to when the rehabilitation works will commence.

“The safety of our road users is JRA’s foremost priority. Due to the age of the extent of the failures of the road pavement structure, the continued use of this road leaves the motorists at risk because of imminent collapse.”

Growing concern

Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, said that this is not the first time the city has raised serious concerns around the impact of illegal mining.

“Our concerns have seemingly fallen on the deaf ears of National government in this respect,” he said.

“Late last year, the Department of Mineral Resources stated that there was ‘…no immediate threat to critical infrastructure as has been claimed…’

“This is despite the very real and imminent threat faced by residents as a result of illegal mining with the use of explosives near highways, Transnet bulk fuel supply and Sasol gas pipelines travelling across the city,” Mashaba said.

Mashaba said that other threats posed by illegal mining activity include:

  • Near pipelines carrying gas and fuel creates increased risk for neighbouring communities, puts services at risk and is an impending threat to the safety of city employees working along the pipelines and other services within the servitudes;
  • Risks contamination of the City’s water supply;
  • Illegal mining has resulted in tremors, which risks the structural integrity of our roads, adjacent residential communities and businesses (Illegal blasting can create a spark that can ignite a fire capable of incinerating a large radius of up to 300sqm);
  • Illegal mining activities have compromised the pillars that support the decommissioned mines, placing additional risk on the physical structure upon which the pipelines rests and the imminent collapse of the mine; and
  • Has compromised both Transnet Pipelines and Sasol gas lines.

“Of significance is the Nasrec precinct where the pipelines intersects with Sasol gas lines,” Mashaba said.

“Investigations have revealed that if illegal mining activity continues within these old mining shafts, the entire FNB Nasrec precinct, including the iconic FNB stadium, could be at risk.”

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Joburg road closed due to damage caused by illegal mining – and there are worries things could get much worse