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Residents Live in Fear After Blast in the CBD

Johannesburg – After a massive explosion that claimed a single life and left scores of people in Bree Street injured and hospitalised, there have been concerns about the infrastructure in the Joburg inner city.

Shop owners, taxi drivers, and residents who live close to the area said they were reeling in shock after the incident, with many saying they felt unsafe.

When the incident took place, residents along Lilian Ngoyi Street were evacuated and moved to temporary structures that were set up at Mary Fitzgerald Square. They also expressed frustration about having no water or electricity after they were cut off during the underground explosion that damaged roads.

The Star spoke to shop owner Swafel Mulungeta, who says his business has been badly affected by the explosion, further revealing that people were living in fear in the area where the incident took place.

“I had just closed my business when I heard a commotion with many people running away from the blast. We watched the incident with fear.

“As a business owner, I lost a lot of money that I won’t be able to get back. It’s a busy time of the month but customers have been scarce since the incident happened. We are also scared of what may happen next. We see the road is closed, but we do not get other updates,” said Mulungeta.

He said they were forced to close their doors for days after the incident, and that also affected business.

Clement Deripi, who is a resident of an apartment building near Bree Street, says a lot has changed since the incident happened, while they have also had to weather the challenge of electricity and water being cut off.

“Before we do anything, we are going to assess the situation, especially for residents. We need to be safe before we do anything,” he said.

In recent reports, IOL revealed that some of the residents have reported headaches, chest pains, and nausea since the blast.

Following the incident, Johannesburg Water revealed that it has deployed 25 chemical toilets, five stationary tanks, and four roaming water tankers in the area to support residents.

It is reported that the chemical toilets would be serviced three times a week.

On Friday, city manager Floyd Brink said: “At this stage, there is no need to evacuate the buildings in the area, and as stated, Joburg Water will provide mobile water and sanitation services to residents in the area.

“As the city, we are confident we have mobilised the best skills and expertise required to respond to the incident and we will, over the coming days, ensure residents are updated and informed on work being done to mitigate the risks and repair the site.

“We have also deployed advanced technologies to assess and review underground damage to the infrastructure. The technologies deployed are worldclass and first of their kind on the continent, and they have assisted us to identify underground defects underneath the surface of the roads that are still intact and unaffected at this stage. Once the site is safe, Johannesburg Water will deploy CCTV technology into the underground pipe systems to make certain there is no further unidentified damage before we resume services.”

Brink said they are waiting for more tests before they can declare the area safe.

Yesterday afternoon, City Power confirmed that full electricity supply had been restored to residents in the Joburg CBD and that the feeder cables under the collapsed road structure along Lilian Ngoyi Street had also been restored.

“At least 100% of the resident load feeding from the Bree substation was energised earlier today at 2:20pm … The team worked hard overnight after the clearance was given by the Emergency Services, Disaster Management, and Labour. The gas levels were also cleared at 1% on the risk matrix,” said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

Mangena added that customers whose power was still off yesterday afternoon should log a call so that their technicians can attend to it.

Source : IOL