Four boys tragically died when they sank into a sand embankment under the N2 highway near Borcherds Quarry on February 8. Several reports suggested that incident may have been related to the practice where individuals siphon sand from the embankments under a bridge in order to use it as a building material, which compromises the stability of the sand and structure.

The practise continues despite the fatal accident and community leaders from the Ireland informal settlement in Khayelitsha believe the N2 bridge near the settlement is on the verge of collapsing.

Simbongile Dlokolo, a community leader, told eNCA’s Nobesuthu Hejana that residents are continuously digging up the sand around the bridge for building purposes and he fears a tragic accident, such as the bridge collapsing, may occur if something is not done. One side of the pavement has already collapsed.

“This is a busy road used by heavy vehicles. So, if this bridge collapses with cars on top many people would get injured. This is why we are calling on the government to assist,” Dlokolo told the news outlet.

The community suggested that if the bridge was protected by a fence, people would not be able to access the sand.

Dlokolo explained that residents use the sand to level their homes and raise them a bit higher from the ground because when heavy rains hit the area most houses are flooded.

Western Cape Public Works MEC, Bongani Madikizela said residents could not justify their actions and indicated that law enforcement officers would be deployed to safeguard the bridge.

Madikizela previously said the province and its contractors conduct inspections of all road infrastructure several times a week. After visiting the site of the Nyanga tragedy on February 11 he said: “[t]he structural integrity of infrastructure such as the Borcherds Quarry bridge on the N2 has not been compromised.

Madikizela, however, added the province understood that “criminals” had dug up a large amount of sand from the embankment of the road, which resulted in the collapse.

A full investigation into the Nyanga incident was launched and it is expected to be shared with the public in the coming week, according to the MEC.

The public works department is also assessing the state of the N2 bridge near Khayelitsha.

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Picture: screenshot from video

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