South African infrastructure collapse warning

South Africa needs urgent intervention to prevent a complete collapse of the country’s infrastructure, as years of inadequate maintenance and mismanagement are taking their toll.

This is the view of Professor William Gumede from Wits’ School of Governance, who told eNCA that immediate intervention is “absolutely critical” to prevent a collapse.

He identified the first and most pressing issue as addressing the lack of maintenance of Apartheid-era infrastructure. 

Over the years, neglect has taken a toll on South Africa’s critical systems, leading to their current state of disrepair. 

Gumede said the country must also urgently build new infrastructure.

The country has not built enough new infrastructure like roads and rails, and when the country has built new infrastructure, it has often been tainted by corruption and mismanagement.

“When we build new infrastructure under the governance of corruption where incompetent people build new infrastructure or when kickbacks are received, companies without capacity build new infrastructure,” he explained. 

“And now, that new infrastructure built by companies without capacity is also falling apart.” 

“So old infrastructure that we didn’t maintain is collapsing. The new infrastructure we built corruptly or without competence is also breaking down.”

He said this is also because the state-owned enterprises that manage South Africa’s infrastructure are collapsing due to incompetency and corruption, which explains the state of the country’s infrastructure.

Therefore, the third intervention requires South Africa to address the governance of the country’s infrastructure “very, very quickly”. 

Gumede pointed to the gas explosion that took place in Johannesburg in July of this year as proof that the country is already seeing the collapse of its infrastructure.

“It is not a conspiracy. It’s not because people are deliberately doing it now. But we’ve reached a critical point where all of the lack of maintenance, the lack of supervision of infrastructure, and the collapse of new infrastructure is now ballooning together, and it is all collapsing.”


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