M&R blames scaffolding for Grayston bridge collapse

The contractor said a concrete truck did not cause the collapse, since part of the scaffolding had fallen on it (Photo; IOL). See more photos below.
The contractor said a concrete truck did not cause the collapse, since part of the scaffolding had fallen on it (Photo; IOL). See more photos below.

A wind gust and scaffolding weaknesses caused the M1 /Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge collapse, said a witness for the contractor.

Construction contractor Murray & Roberts expert witness, Ric Snowden, told the DOL’s M1 bridge collapse inquiry: “It is common cause that wind was a trigger of the collapse of the temporary structure”. There were no missing bolts, and no truck collisions.

Snowden said that the collapse towards the western direction, was difficult to explain. “There were other factors on the day, responsible for the collapse to the western side”.

He told the inquiry that measurements on the day showed that six minutes before the collapse, there was a high wind speed of 10.1 metres per second. However wind speed on the day was normal, from the north-east.

Snowden testified that when the temporary structure was erected, “not everything would be perfect”.

A scene at the scaffolding and bridge collapse site (Klass Looch).
A scene at the scaffolding and bridge collapse site (Klass Looch).

The collapse had killed two people and injured 19. The Department of Labour had set up the Section 32 Inquiry to unearth the causes for the bridge collapse while still on scaffolding.

The investigation is held in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. The inquiry is presided over by Lennie Samuel, assisted by Lesibe Raphela.

Parties involved in the 14 October 2015 incident include the City of Johannesburg, and the Johannesburg Development Agency, who had appointed Royal Haskoning DHV as the Construction Health and Safety Agent.

A view of part of the collapsed scaffolding, and one of the affected roadways (Mirror.uk).
A view of part of the collapsed scaffolding, and one of the affected roadways (Mirror.uk).

No missing bolts, no truck collision

Snowden dismissed media reports about missing bolts. “We have investigated that aspect and found it to be untrue,” he said.

Snowden also discounted social media reports that a concrete truck on the scene was responsible for the collapse.

He said the concrete structure on the western works had not moved for a considerable length of time before the collapse. “Evidence from photos discount that notion as a red herring.

“Scaffolding fell on top of the concrete truck, rather than the truck hitting the scaffolding”.

A view of part of the collapsed scaffolding, from near road level (NCA).
A view of part of the collapsed scaffolding, from near road level (NCA).

The Commission’s mandate focuses on:

  • responsibility of the principal constructor in terms of the Construction Regulations
  • responsibility of the client (City of Johannesburg, and its development agency)
  • responsibility of the Construction Health and Safety Agent on behalf of the client, in terms of the Construction Regulations
  • responsibility of the supplier of materials
  • responsibility of the designer.

Some of the parties to testify include;

  • engineers
  • Contractor; Murray and Roberts
  • Agent; Royal Haskoning DHV
  • Scaffolding suppliers; Formscaff
  • Engineering Council of South Africa
  • National Union of Mineworkers.

Source; SA Department of Labour.

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