Lights farce on highway claims nine lives
THE Gauteng government failed to pay to keep the lights on along a crucial highway from OR Tambo International Airport, because the account had been sent to the wrong address.
Foreigners’ first impressions of a country are often formed at airports; and visitors to Johannesburg drive from the busiest, swankiest airport on the continent into darkest Africa after they leave its precincts.
The busy R24 leading towards central Johannesburg has claimed nine lives in recent months.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has discovered why the highway — well-lit during the Soccer World Cup in 2010 — was plunged into darkness: the Ekurhuleni metro had been sending the bill for the electricity used to keep the highway lit to the wrong address.
Neil Campbell, DA Gauteng roads and transport spokesman, said yesterday he had been posing questions about the highway to the MEC for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi, since April, and finally had a response.
"The MEC said that the lack of lighting on the R24 highway is due to discontinuation of power provision by the Ekurhuleni (Metropolitan Municipality) because the Gauteng department of roads and transport failed to pay the municipality," Mr Campbell said.
"In a comedy of errors, the metro had been sending the power bills to the Gauteng department of infrastructure development which did not think it necessary to pass the invoice on to the department of roads and transport."
Mr Campbell said the failure in liaison between the local and provincial spheres of government, and between the two departments in the Gauteng government, had taken several months to resolve.
"Unfortunately, during this period of a lack of response from the two authorities, nine members of the public have died on the unlit road," he said.
"The R24 is an important gateway road from OR Tambo to our largest city, and contrasts dismally when compared to the national N1 and R21 roads, which are well lit and well protected by metal and concrete barriers."
Mr Campbell said Mr Vadi had indicated the lights would be back on by August 17.
The Gauteng roads and transport department did not respond to requests for comment.
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