16 September 2019
Garden Route Dam Construction: Cyclists ignoring danger signs
Photo Caption: The Articulated Dump Truck (ATD) pictured weighs almost 50 tons fully loaded and has a width of 3m over the wheels and needs to manoeuvre on an approximately 5m wide access track around the dam.
George Municipality has repeatedly warned the public, and in particular cyclists and walkers, that the Garden Route Dam area is currently a construction site and no access by members of the public is permitted. The specific dangers have also been repeatedly highlighted.
Cyclists however continue to enter the cordoned off area, ignoring signage and temporary barriers, ignore the contractor’s warning when they are apprehended and go as far as being insulting towards the contractor. A cyclist recently incurred an injury while cycling in the no-go area having ignored the relevant signage and barricading. The injuries sustained by the cyclist required evacuation by medical services after the severely injured cyclist was discovered by other cyclists who were also trespassing.
The injured cyclist was lying on the route travelled by numerous 36 ton (without a load) articulated dump trucks travelling between the borrow pit and the dam wall. This is a no-go area with narrow access roads, frequent bends and drivers do not expect to encounter members of the public. An injured person would in all probability not have been noticed in time for a driver to come to a stop resulting in an almost certain fatality.
The medical evacuation process brought all construction activities on the entire site to a halt and the access road through the site had to be levelled before the emergency vehicle was able to reach the cyclist. The process required a separate investigation by the Health and Safety agents, incident reporting, and the time delay resulted in the contractor having to bear the burden of the costs to cease all activities, specifically significant during the critical pouring of concrete, shut down all plant and then restart and resume works after the area was entirely cleared and declared safe. The situation results in a minority group exposing the entire community to project delays and cost claims by the contractor.
Certain members of the public are simply ignoring the signage, cordons and the contractor’s warnings, posing a risk to themselves and the contractor. Initially, only a few transgressions were noted, but the problem has been steadily escalating with cyclists comprising the majority of the culprits.
George Municipality urgently appeals to the community of George to adhere to the signage and warnings and to acknowledge and comply with the request not to enter the area at any time.
The spillway wall footing is progressing well with an additional section having been completed. High pressure grouting will commence shortly and is one of the most critical aspects of the project. This process cannot be disrupted without substantial risk to the project and the final product.
George Municipality has also commenced with a series of controlled burns to clear alien vegetation in the areas that pose a fire risk. Heavy construction vehicles are currently still operating on both the MTO Forestry/Nelson Mandela University and George sides of the dam wall. The required signage is in place to warn the public that the area is a construction site and only authorised persons are permitted to access this area wearing the correct safety clothing.
George Municipality sincerely thanks the majority of its residents for adhering to the restrictions as this allows construction to continue without undue interruption and additional safety, financial and program risks. All enquiries must please be referred to the Municipality for comment and feedback to Gvanniekerk@george.gov.za
Last published 16 September 2019