Lead inspector appointed in Joburg bridge collapse inquiry

Pretoria - The Department of Labour’s Chief Inspector, Tibor Szana, on Wednesday announced the appointment of Lennie Samuel as the Presiding Inspector to head the Section 32 Inquiry into the collapse of the temporary walkway bridge between Sandton and Alexandra on the M1 freeway.

Samuel has 30 years of service with the department. He was a forensic investigator and co-commissioner for the Tongaat Mall Structural Collapse Inquiry.

The latest announcement follows a media briefing held by the Department of Labour on October 28 in which it released a preliminary report on the state of the collapsed bridge and announced it will set up a Section 32 Inquiry in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.

In terms of the mandate from the Chief Inspector, Samuel will preside over the formal inquiry to determine if there was any contravention of the OHS Act and any of its regulations, which led to the uncontrolled collapse of the structure or any part thereof - consequently resulting in the untimely deaths and injury of people.

The collapse of the temporary bridge in the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structure led to the death of two people and injury to 19 others.

Szana reiterated that at this stage, no party stands accused of any wrongdoing leading to the collapse of the structure.

The Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse inquiry will be held in public.

The inquiry is expected to last at least six months. After the inquiry, Samuel will be expected to compile a written report that will be forwarded to the office of the Department of Labour Chief Inspector, who will subsequently hand it over to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision.

Samuel said a crucial briefing session will be held on 8 December 2015 at the Tshwane Municipal Offices in Pretoria to unveil the terms of reference of the inquiry.

The briefing session will also include unveiling a media protocol on the media coverage of the inquiry.

Samuel said on Tuesday there was a meeting with 26 role players ranging from Murray & Roberts, legal representatives, the City of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Roads Agency, engineers, Foamscaff and all interested players in the matter.

The meeting came following a request by Murray & Roberts to seek permission to remove the temporary collapsed structure on the site of the accident.

“The request to remove the collapsed structure was not granted until all stakeholders have sufficiently documented the site of the accident. No stakeholder should feel prejudiced by the removal,” Samuel said.

He said the meeting agreed Murray & Roberts should first prepare a protocol document highlighting procedures that would be followed in the stages of removal, safety specifications, safety plans and related matters.

He also said Murray & Roberts has also been requested to circulate all protocol documents by November 20. Once all these have been accepted by all parties, the Department of Labour would then consider the request by Murray & Roberts to remove the collapsed structure.

Samuel said while the removed structure will be kept with Murray & Roberts, it will still be under the control of the Department of Labour.

“While all these processes are unfolding, the Department of Labour is still continuing gathering statements and evidence,” Samuel said.

– SAnews.gov.za