Manhole coverTheft, vandalism and illegal mining are threatening the City of Johannesburg’s road infrastructure and public safety.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba called on city officials, stakeholders, and public-sector policing to assist in clamping down on these illegal activities.

The city has already spent R12.3 million on the repair and replacement of vandalised and stolen road infrastructure only five months into the new financial year according to Nonhlanhla Makhuba, MMC for Transport Councillor.

Stolen and damaged infrastructure replaced thus far includes missing man-hole covers, traffic signal poles and copper cables, road signage, guardrails, traffic signal poles, and bridge railings.

“Of the 31 CCTV cameras installed, only 3 remain, and 31 of 427 uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units to run traffic signals have been stolen this year. Insurance claims have risen to R4.4 million due to accident damage arising from stolen road infrastructure and people falling into open manholes,” Makhuba explained.

Progressive interventions

According the mayor the economic impact of theft and vandalism on the city’s roads has far wider implications for the municipality.

“We are embarking on progressive interventions to address the rampant and brazen acts of criminality.  We are calling on our stakeholders to collaborate with us in putting an end to this direct sabotage of our operations and our mandate in delivering services.

“The safety of our residents and all roads users is paramount, scrap dealers aiding and abetting in the sale and purchase of stolen road related infrastructure will be prosecuted. We are appealing to City of Johannesburg residents to support our efforts in combatting crime by reporting acts of theft and vandalism to the City’s Crime Hotline and Johannesburg Road Agency’s (JRA) Infrastructure Protection Unit (IPU).”

Cracking down on illegal mining

The City is equally concerned about the impending threat posed by illegal mining syndicates, with activity reported at decommissioned mines across the city, including mining activities along the M2 highway, M1 Double Decker bridge, Main Reef and Nasrec roads including FNB Stadium where the bulk Transnet fuel supply and SASOL gas pipelines traverse.

The use of explosives has now compromised public safety, with increased reports of tremors and illegal mining activity reported in close proximity to pipelines carrying gas and fuel.

Mayor Mashaba has called for a collaborative crackdown operation with the Department of Mineral Resources, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Roads and Transport, JMPD, SAPS and Hawks to halt illegal mining activities.

Perpetrators caught will be charged and can serve up to 30 years imprisonment for vandalising sensitive city infrastructure. The City of Johannesburg is exploring additional measures to fast-track persecution of criminals and engagement is underway with rolling out of more municipal courts.