JRA rolling out alternative man-hole covers

Manhole opposite Risidale Primary school. File Photo.

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) is introducing alternative non-metal manhole covers and drainage grates as part of its enormous fight to save the City of Johannesburg’s road assets from rampant theft and vandalism.

“The JRA is implementing an initiative to replace all cast iron and steel manhole covers and drainage grates with alternative materials such as ductile iron, plastic, fibre glass and polymer,” said JRA acting managing director Mpho Kau.

“The JRA piloted the alternative manhole covers in selected areas city-wide and the results proved positive. The specification has been approved and we are now procuring the alternative products.”

The agency also confirmed that due to the market value of the metals in manhole covers and drainage grates, they have become the targets of thieves and vandals.

Kau confirmed that the problem with theft is global and generally worsens when the price of scrap metal is high. The City and the JRA is experiencing huge financial losses due to theft of its steel roads infrastructure assets namely manhole covers and frames, kerb inlet covers, water meter covers, sewer manhole covers, channel posts and guard rails, traffic poles, bridge hand railings and so forth.

Over the past 12 months, 3200 missing manhole covers were reported to the JRA.

The missing covers on walkways and roads create a huge problem for pedestrians and other road users including small children who have fallen into the manholes and storm water channels and have been fatally injured. As an interim measure, once the JRA is notified of open manholes, it barricades the area to secure the hole and warn the community.

Kau said the JRA condemns illegal scrap metal dealers who are complicit in the increasing assault on the City’s infrastructure and urges unsuspecting dealers to examine the metals before accepting them.

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