Failure to complete Mdloti River bridge blamed for disappearance of 2 men

Solomon Shandu and Simphiwe Cele were on their way back home from a colleague’s funeral in Harrismith on Saturday night, when their car was swept away as they were trying to cross the swollen river.

Solomon Shandu and Simphiwe Cele were on their way back home from a colleague’s funeral in Harrismith on Saturday night, when their car was swept away as they were trying to cross the swollen Mdloti River. Picture: Bernadette Wicks/Eyewitness News

DURBAN - The failure to conclude a contract to build a bridge over the Mdloti River in Ndwedwe, north of Durban, has been given as one of the reasons that might have led to the disappearance of two municipal workers during the storms that ravaged the area over the past weekend.

Solomon Shandu and Simphiwe Cele were on their way back home from a colleague’s funeral in Harrismith on Saturday night, when their car was swept away as they were trying to cross the swollen river.

There was supposed to be a concrete bridge connecting the two sides of the river but the project ground to a halt as a result of the contractor not having the capacity to complete it.

Just metres from the spot where Shandu and Cele’s car was washed away while they were trying to cross the river, sits the bones of a new concrete bridge.

Had it been completed by now, as it was meant to, Shandu and Cele might never have found themselves in that desperate position.

But midway through the project, it emerged that the contractor who had been appointed didn’t have the capacity to finish the job.

The MEC for Transport in KwaZulu-Natal, Peggy Nkonyeni, was at the scene on Wednesday and said that the contract had since been cancelled.

She said the contractor has since taken the department to court and the matter was now in the hands of the courts to decide.

In the meantime, work was under way on Wednesday to find a temporary solution.

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