A parliamentary inquiry into the November 9 floods has found it was exacerbated by a blockage at one of the culverts, Alex News reports.
Six people died as a result of the floods last year.
A culvert is a structure that allows water to flow under a road. It led to water overtopping the embankments and spilling on to the N3, costing lives.
“This incident is an indictment on the South African Roads Agency Limited [Sanral] which is responsible for the maintenance of the culverts and our highways,” member of parliament Mike Waters said.
“Despite the already poor condition of the culverts, some of them have become living quarters for vagrants and were partitioned off and divided into rooms. It is totally unacceptable that the situation was allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it led to lives being lost,” he said.
Waters has called for an investigation into the matter to ensure that the person(s) responsible for the maintenance of the culverts face criminal charges.
“I have written to the South African Human Rights Commission requesting that they also do an investigation into the matter,” he said.
“Emanating from the report is that the R24/N12 culvert system is inadequate to handle the recommended design of a one-in-80-year flood.
“The questions that I will be asking in Parliament is how was this allowed to happen and why the culverts were not upgraded at the time of the highway network upgrades, ahead of the 2010 World Cup?” Waters said.
General manager for communications at Sanral, Vusi Mona, said a team of engineers inspected its network in Gauteng following the flash floods on November 9.
“The independent report confirmed that the flood was an exceptional 1:200 year (one in 200 year) flood,” Mona said.
He added that maintenance of the culverts within Sanral’s jurisdiction is regularly done but the culvert system is not designed for major floods such as those which occurred.
“After every significant rainfall event, culverts are checked and cleared of debris. The independent report did not highlight maintenance as a problem,” Mona said.
“Improvements to the drainage systems is, however, being looked at. However, a holistic approach with all spheres of government has to be adopted, as solving upstream floods may cause flooding of houses downstream,” he said.
– Caxton News Service