South Africa


Troubled water: Community angry about vandalism of new bridge built at a cost of R1.6-million

Troubled water: Community angry about vandalism of new bridge built at a cost of R1.6-million
All three photos are of the same bridge in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage. (Photos: GroundUp)

Can you guess the order in which the photos in the main image of the bridge were taken?

First published by GroundUp.

It’s a trick question. The photos are ordered in exactly the time sequence they were taken: 17, 18 and 20 August 2020. The ones on the left and right were taken by Thamsanqa Mbovane and the middle one was supplied to him.

On 20 January 2020, GroundUp published a story about the end of a 15-year wait by residents and learners in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage for a bridge across this river. The previous bridge collapsed in 2005 after heavy rains.

(Photo: GroundUp)

On 18 August 2020, we reported that the new bridge had been built, at a cost of R1.6-million, according to Nelson Mandela Bay Mayco Member for Roads and Transport Rosie Daaminds. She said the contractors were two local businesses and the bridge was completed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

One resident said: “My RDP house is worth more than this bridge. It is like a stoep.”

Here’s the new bridge as photographed on 17 August 2020 (the left photo in the collage at the top of the article). Notice that it has no rails.

(Photo: GroundUp)

The day we published (18 August 2020), the municipality put up the rails. Professional boxer Nicolus Sigili alerted us to the rails because he crosses the bridge to and from gym every day.

You can see the rails being built below in a photo supplied to us:

(Photo: GroundUp)

This is the finished product :

(Photo: GroundUp)

Then the bridge was vandalised:

(Photo: GroundUp)

Some time after the above photo was taken, the rail lying in the river was stolen.

Alerted to the theft of the rails, a shocked Councillor Daaminds said: “No ways!” Ward 44 Councillor Nomsa Booi (ANC) confirmed the rails had been stolen. “We build, but the people destroy what is rightfully theirs. We condemn the looting of the rails in the strongest terms.”

And here’s what the bridge currently looks like (below). DM

(Photo: GroundUp)


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