Press statement by
Cilliers Brink
MMC Responsible for Region 4

Msimanga administration makes R25 million available to fix Jean Avenue sinkhole

08 September 2017
Release: immediate

Note to editor: Please note that MMC Brink communicates this in his capacity as the MMC responsible for Region 4.

The Msimanga administration has committed R25 million from the operating budget to start repair work on the Jean Avenue sinkhole within the next few weeks.

Repair work is estimated to take nine months to repair the sinkhole, not taking into account unforeseen delays. Repair work is likely to commence in the coming rainy season, there can be delays due to the rainfall and wet ground conditions, as well as availability of specialised equipment, unexpected ground conditions and contractor closure in December.

The sinkhole has caused massive disruption to business and traffic flow in the area. This is the largest single cost of repair, and will also require a service provider/contractor with necessary capacity to undertake the work.

Much of Centurion and Laudium is built on dolomitic soil, which is predisposed to collapse when coming into contact with a large concentration of acidic water.

There are presently 24 sinkholes in Tshwane, of which 23 are in the Centurion/Laudium/Olivenhoutbosch Region. Over the years Tshwane has not budgeted adequately for repairing sinkholes.

To fix all the City’s sinkholes at once is estimated to cost R60 million and we have committed ourselves to address the problem over the next financial years. However, site securing, geological investigations and periodic monitoring of the sinkholes are being done in the meantime.

The current City government inherited a nearly R2 billion budget deficit. R1.5 billion was squandered by the previous City government on fruitless and wasteful, unauthorised and irregular expenditure.

As we work to repair Tshwane’s finances, the City will therefore have to prioritise the repair of some sinkholes over others. That order of priority, determined by engineers not politicians, is the following:

1.   Safety of the public
2.   Exposure of risk to businesses and the community
3.   Size and extent of damage to infrastructure
4.   Stability of the sinkhole
5.   Scope of repair work
6.   Age of the sinkhole

Coupled with the emergency response to the Jean Avenue sinkhole, the City appreciates that response to sinkholes by previous administrations has been wholly inadequate and we are working to address the problem.

Although there is no fool-proof way to know exactly where sinkholes will form, Tshwane’s Mayoral Committee is convinced that the City can manage the problem much more effectively.

First, it is clear that a more realistic budget needs to be allocated to sinkhole repairs in future. And so we are exploring the possibility of a contingency reserve fund in future budgets.

Second, sinkholes always happen because of a concentration of water. The systematic upgrade of Centurion’s asbestos-based water infrastructure may therefore prevent many sinkholes. The upgrade of the other underground wet services such as sewer and stormwater must also receive attention.

The City has also been approached by a corporate entity who has offered to assist in fixing the Jean Avenue sinkhole. A final assessment of the sinkhole repair method will be done within the next two weeks, and then we will be able to determine how such generous offers can be used.

The biggest cost in fixing sinkholes isn’t merely the method and the material used to close the hole, but also the relocation and re-instatement of  service infrastructure that accompanies such a geomorphological disruption. The rehabilitation may also extend to the upgrade of services in the immediate vicinity surrounding the sinkhole.

The other two sinkholes prioritized for repair as soon as possible is in Clubview (approximately R3 million), which has the potential to effect 900 households, and 2nd Avenue in Claudius (approximately R15 million).

In the coming weeks the City will see if further funds can be reprioritised for the repair of these sinkholes within the present financial year.

Media enquiries:

Cilliers Brink
Tshwane MMC for Corporate and Shared Services
072 101 1638

Samkelo Mgobozi
Spokesperson to the Executive Mayor of Tshwane
078 231 5977