Murray & Roberts Starts Probe Into Bridge Structure Collapse

  • Independent consultants hired to help with investigation
  • Shares extend fall; freeway reopens after clear-up operation

Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd. has hired independent consultants to help investigate the collapse of the support structure of a bridge being built over a Johannesburg freeway that killed at least two people and injured several others.

The shares of South Africa’s second-largest builder fell 0.5 percent to 11.10 rand by the close in Johannesburg, extending a 7.3 percent decline on Wednesday after the company confirmed it was responsible for construction. It’s too early to speculate about the cause of the accident, Murray & Roberts Chief Executive Officer Henry Laas said by phone on Thursday.

“It is in everybody’s interest to get to the root cause of this incident as quickly as possible so that we know what went wrong here and that we can prevent something like this from ever happening again,” Laas said. “It is going to take time, we don’t want to jump to a conclusion but we want to get answers as soon as possible.”

The freeway, which feeds Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district, was reopened on Thursday afternoon after a clear-up operation. The Department of Labor, the City of Johannesburg, and the South African Police Service are among other parties that will conduct investigations, Murray & Roberts said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

Two Casualties

Two people died after the collapse, radio news service Eyewitness News reported on Thursday, citing Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau. Tau’s office retracted an earlier statement that a third person had died, the station said.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has called on authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, the government department said in a statement. The bridge was being built to enable pedestrians to cross the freeway separating Sandton and the nearby Alexandra township, it said.

The steel support structure which collapsed had been assembled off site in four main pieces, Laas said. The construction had only recently been completed when the collapse occurred. The investigations could take months, although “hopefully not that long,” he said.

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