It’s no secret that SA’s public infrastructure is collapsing due to neglect and lack of maintenance, which continues to threaten and undermine public safety.
Yet every time an infrastructure-related disaster strikes, we react with shock and surprise, and struggle to make sense of what happened. So many questions and so few answers from the authorities.
Sadly, news of explosions and deaths of citizens has become commonplace even though public safety is an essential part of a binding contract between citizens and the government.
The unexplained explosion on Lilian Ngoyi Street [formerly Bree] In Joburg’s central business district, which killed one person and left more than 40 injured by Thursday, is another example of the failure to address this public safety concern. The incident also highlighted how unprepared the government was for an emergency, despite clear indications of potential danger evident daily.
There have been suspicions about illegal mining possibly causing the explosion, and to be honest, these are not unfounded. Numerous warnings have been issued about the dangers illegal mining poses to the city’s infrastructure and human life, but none have been acted upon. If illegal mining turns out to be the cause, it indicates another failure to take responsibility before disaster strikes to prevent it.
But whatever caused the explosion, whether it was illegal mining, an accidental gas leak, or a failing electrical infrastructure, we have to be better prepared so that when things go wrong, we know what to do to save lives.
The blast in Joburg’s central business district not only injured people and injured one person, but also displaced hundreds of others who live and work in the city center and stripped business owners of their livelihoods, leaving them in a state of despair and uncertainty.
Yesterday, however, authorities still struggled to provide a clear plan on how to accommodate residents who need to be relocated while conducting assessments of the structural integrity of blast-damaged properties.
It will likely take months, if not years, to repair the damage left behind. Where will the money come from since Joburg is known to be cash-strapped? The government owes it to the citizens to assure them of how safe they are in the city from further disasters.