Two years later – Still no Blancheville Bridge

The infamous Blancheville Bridge is celebrating its second anniversary after being destroyed.

On March 18, 2016 the Second Avenue Bridge was washed away following a cloudburst in the area.

After funding requests submitted to various government institutions were unsuccessful the municipality had to fund the repair from its own resources. In the first half of 2017 bids were received by the closing date advertised.

A letter appointing the successful tender was issued by the then Municipal Manager, Mr Theo van Vuuren in November 2017.
The successful contactor was scheduled to commence work in December of that year and site establishment commenced at the site with a temporary site office and yard.


Roy Cronje, the DA chairperson of Ward 20 along with councillor, Moosa Bhamjee at Second Avenue Bridge in Blancheville.

The public participation process was followed and public meetings were held to appoint the CLO (community liaison officer) who is the link between the contractor and the local community regarding recruitment of labour within the precinct of ward 20. A bridge project steering committee was established as per legislation from within the ward representing interest groups from the ward.

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The CLO was appointed, the labour component was appointed and work commenced early January 2018 with initial delivery of materials and preparation of the abutments on the western side of the bridge. The work was then disrupted by local elements within ward 20 demanding that they be awarded certain subcontracts as they felt entitled to be given preference due to their alleged location within the ward.

The municipal steering committee met with the municipal MMC and the interest groups to resolve the subcontract issue and the contractors called for quotations from the groups for the subcontracting component, the outcome of which is unknown.

The contractor was then threatened as well as the appointed labourers, and removed his machinery from site as he was not prepared to expose his equipment to the risk of being sabotaged and damaged.


Second Avenue Bridge in Blancheville still not reconstructed after two years.

The contract made provision for progress payments to be made when certain milestones were reached, but the municipality has defaulted on the payments and thus the contractor has abandoned the site and is out of pocket for all work done and materials purchased so far e.g. the cement arches which are awaiting installation. Due to the financial state of the municipality the contractor still has not received any payment.

The bridge however is on the municipal adjustment budget that was tabled in council in January with the contractor amount still outstanding and shown that it has to be paid from own funds, and that does not take into consideration any escalation. In the meantime it is the community that has to bear the brunt of the poor service delivery.

On March 14 a delegation from the Democratic Alliance consisting of the three members of the Provincial Legislature, the ward Councillor for ward 20 and other councillors of eMalahleni made a site visit to the bridge in Blancheville to see the state of the non progress of the project and to formulate action to be taken for the resumption of work which it is hoped will proceed forthwith.

The DA will continue to put pressure on eMalahleni municipality for the completion of the long outstanding project.

  AUTHOR
Chrisuné Vermeulen
JOURNALIST/PHOTOGRAPHER

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