Early on Thursday morning, Phindile Chauke, the spokesperson of the Johannesburg Mayor (Parks Tau), said the M1 freeway would remain closed following the collapse of a pedestrian bridge which was under construction.
Chauke said the remains of the bridge were not completely removed. Therefore, commuters were advised to use buses and the Gautrain to and from Sandton. She said transporters like Metrorail, Putco and Gauteng buses offered to help commuters.
After the impermanent pedestrian bridge collapsed onto two vehicles on Wednesday, 21 people were injured, two killed and at least one extremely injured. It is said that sometime after 3pm, when the bridge collapsed, it crushed tons of steel supporting traffic on the busy highway. Motorists who were in heavily backed traffic were left in rage and emergency services workers were exasperated and city officials perplexed.
The falling bridge hit a blue Toyota Fortuner, which had a Durban registration plate. Of the five occupants who were in the car, an adult male who was a front passenger died and the female driver was transferred to hospital as she was extremely injured. The driver of a Toyota Hi-Ace taxi was killed and two passengers who were in the front were injured after the taxi was hit by the falling bridge. The injured passengers were transferred to hospital by 7pm after they were trapped for hours.
The lights of the Fortuner were still on and remains of the vehicles were still under the rubble. After the injured were removed the scene, enormous cranes were brought in to lift the rubble. Watching the operations were thousands of watchers, who lined the Grayston Road bridge over the M1.
The bridge, which is believed to weigh about 80 tons, is a City of Joburg project. It was a Murray & Roberts project, a temporary pedestrian bridge over the M1 immediately north of Grayston Drive – linking Alexandra and Sandton. It is also part of the EcoMobility project which is a City of Joburg initiative to reduce traffic congestion in Sandton.
South African Police Services, Labour Department and builders Murray & Roberts are carrying out the investigations.