The driver of the gas truck that exploded in Boksburg on Christmas Eve morning could never have seen it coming.
A Google Street View picture of the structure revealed a faded, near invisible warning signage on the traffic facing the side of the bridge. The driver would have had no idea that his truck wouldn’t fit under the structure.
Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson Warren Gilt confirmed that the bridge and the responsibility of warning signage both belonged to Prasa.
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He said: “It’s the responsibility of Prasa to indicate height as it is their asset.”
Gilt also noted that the City is responsible for the road alone.
Heavy motor vehicles not allowed
At the scene of the explosion, no street warning signs were visible in the aftermath either.
The Mininstry of Transport said: “According to the National Land Transportation Act, the NLTA, Heavy Motor Vehicles, especially vehicles carrying dangerous goods, are not permissible on regional roads in residential areas, without the granting of the necessary clearance permits.
“The Minister is aware of a currently ongoing investigation about the causes of the incident.”
It added: “The bridge is the property of Prasa on the Germiston line, however has not been operational since 2020. Under Prasa’s rebuilding program, that rail corridor is targeted as a part of the next grouping of priority corridors to be rebuilt.”
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said: “I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to the relatives and loved ones of those who lost their lives under such devastating circumstances at a time when they should be enjoying Christmas with their families. I also wish those injured a speedy recovery.”
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The death toll continued to mount throughout the day and reports now vary between 9 and 10 fatalities and close to 40 injured.
Several houses were severely damaged as well as areas of the OR Tambo Memorial Hospital. The bridge collapsed. Damage is likely running into millions of Rand, excluding the incalculable cost of human life and hurt.
Boksburg investigation ongoing
The Minister also urged all motorists to adhere to the rules of the road and to respect the rights of other road users. But based on the Google Street View picture, the truck driver may not have had the opportunity to adhere to near-invisible rules.
Gilt noted that the City will leave no stone unturned during its investigation.
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He said: “Reports will be provided to us as to what has happened today from all relevant spheres of government. It’s important to note that the owner of the company which the truck belonged to was on site all day and is cooperating with SAPS.”