South Africa: City of Joburg Closes a Road in Roodepoort Due to Illegal Mining

The City of Johannesburg (COJ) has been forced to close Iridium Street between Randfontein Road and Penny Road in Roodepoort due to illegal mining activities.

"Despite the road being old, illegal mining in the vicinity has contributed immensely to the deterioration of the road pavement structure," mayor Herman Mashaba said in a statement on Tuesday.

The holes dug in the road had resulted in ponding when it rains and, in turn, the pavement structure being undermined, he said.

As a result, the Johannesburg Roads Agency will be prioritising the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the road during the 2019/20 financial year.

"The safety of our road users is JRA's foremost priority.

"Due to the age of the extent of the failures of the road pavement structure, the continued use of this road leaves motorists at risk because of imminent collapse," Mashaba explained.

The city further claims that its attempt to highlight concerns regarding illegal mining in Johannesburg has allegedly "fallen on deaf ears".

"Late last year, the Department of Mineral Resources states that there was 'no immediate threat to critical infrastructure as has been claimed'.

"This is despite the very real and imminent threat faced by residents as a result of illegal mining with the use of explosives near highways, Transnet bulk fuel supply and SASOL gas pipelines traveling across the city," Mashaba added.

Mashaba claims that further attempts to seek intervention from national government regarding the issue of illegal mining were not fruitful.

"The time has come for national government to do the right thing, take this matter seriously and decisively act to protect our residents," Mashaba concluded.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) however has denied downplaying the seriousness of illegal mining as a criminal activity.

In response to Mashaba's claims, the department on Wednesday said it encouraged the mayor to participate in the province's 'Illegal Mining Stakeholder Forum' which was established by the department in 2012 to identify and seal open shafts as well as conducting operations to combat illegal mining in the province.

"Officials of the City of Johannesburg should fully participate in this forum to deal with the challenges that arise in the area. Further, the ministry continues to be open to everyone who wants to engage it on issues affecting mining. This offer was extended to the mayor as far back as 2018," the DMR said in a response to News24 on Wednesday.

The DMR added that since taking office in 2018, the minister Gwede Mantashe had proposed to the mining industry as well as to the police minister that there should be an establishment of a specialised unit to combat illegal mining.

"Any person with information on illegal mining, including the City of Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba should report such activities to the police so that those involved are arrested, charged and prosecuted," the DMR concluded.

The said road has been closed since June 29, 2019 and the closure will be in force until the road is repaired in June 2020.

Road users and affected communities will be notified in due course as to when the rehabilitation works are scheduled to begin.

Source: News24

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