City of Tshwane sets aside R25m for rehabilitation of sinkholes

There are 31 sinkholes in various parts areas of the City

City of Tshwane sets aside R25m for rehabilitation of sinkholes

23 July 2018

R25m will be made available by the City of Tshwane in the 2018/2019 financial year for the rehabilitation of sinkholes.

This is according to City of Tshwane member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for roads and transport Sheila Senkubuge, who on Monday also said R27.5m had been allocated for five of the highest-ranked sinkholes in the City for the 2017/2018 financial year.

Senkubuge was briefing the media along with MMC for corporate and shared services Cilliers Brink and MMC for economic development and spatial planning Randall Williams on the status of sinkholes in the City of Tshwane.These include sinkholes along the R55 in Laudium and Jean Avenue in Centurion.

Senkubuge said the delays in repairing the Jean Avenue sinkhole in 2017 were because no budget had been allocated.The City had therefore ensured that for the current financial year, funds are allocated for repairing sinkholes that occur.

R55 repairs '90% complete'

Due to the high number of sinkholes, a process that would prioritise sinkholes had also been developed, she said.

"It is important to note that sinkholes can occur naturally over time, but are aggravated in built-up areas due to leakage and ingress of storm water, water or wastewater into the subsurface and also through the lowering of the groundwater table through dewatering," Senkubuge said.Senkubuge said there was progress on the Jean Avenue sinkhole. She said phase one was expected to be completed by the end of August and the road would be open partially.She added that repairs on the R55 sinkhole began in April and were "90% complete with planned completion at the end of August".

There are 31 sinkholes in various parts areas of the City but Senkubuge said officials were doing their best to minimise damage, disruptions and risk to the City and its residents.

She said two of the five highest-ranked sinkholes were repaired in the 2017/2018 financial year.

Geological investigations

Senkubuge added that Centurion had a lot of dolomite, which affects the area and makes it prone to sinkholes.

"The City is also looking at our infrastructure, replacing [infrastructure] that needs to be replaced and maintaining where we need to. "Senkubuge said that geological investigations were conducted before developments were constructed in areas where there were sinkholes.MMC Williams said when developments were conducted, it is the developers' responsibility to submit to the City geological studies for approval before starting work.

"It's up to [them] to inform us what is the geological make-up of that particular land that's going to be developed to see if it's suitable."

He said based on the information submitted by engineers, they then approve developments in particular areas.

Loss of income

"The engineers tell us whether it is suitable for a certain type of dwelling to be built on that particular land and that's what we use to take make decisions," Williams said.

Brink said the City's first priority was to attend to the repairs of the sinkholes and that it had not yet considered the effects they had had on businesses and individuals. He said the City had not been sued by any business or individual for loss of income due to the sinkholes.

"Any loss of income must be proved before a court of law. The City cannot prove the loss of income incurred by the businesses and also cannot pay out money on the expense of all of Tshwane's residents without any loss of income being proved," Brink said.

He said during the current financial year the City was spending a bit more on repairs and maintenance of infrastructure than it did in the previous year. "As the City's financial position improves as it has substantially we will spend more on repairs and maintenance," Brink added.

The City's geologist, Ashika Sudu, said the nature of dolomite made it very difficult to predict where sinkholes might occur.

"For the City, it is a difficult tool to use to try and predict where the sinkholes can occur because they occur suddenly and are triggered by something, be it storm water or leaking pipe".The City said it would focus on preventative measures and upgrading infrastructure to avoid sinkholes.