It is anticipated that the full extent of the damage caused to structures during the unprecedented flooding which occurred in early April in parts of KwaZulu-Natal will be revealed over time due to the potential for water ingress through damaged concrete could result in spalling.“It is important that structures are not only assessed on a once-off basis but that repeat inspections are carried out at varying intervals to fully understand the damage caused,” says Jet Demolition Contracts Manager Kate Bester. Bester stated that the damage caused to the structures will vary due to various factors, which include the duration of when the structures were submerged, whether they were covered or exposed to flowing water, and the areas where they are constructed. “The key consideration now is to continue to exercise caution, this is important where structures have suffered damage or been exposed to extreme elements such as excessive water or even fire,” said Bester. Bester said that specialist companies and engineering consultants appointed by property owners and insurers will be needed to undertake general preliminary assessments to determine whether some given structures can be salvaged or not. Demolition “In some cases, structures that pose an immediate risk to public safety will be completely vacated and placed under guard to prevent unauthorised access,” Bester noted. When dealing with unsafe, unsound, or irreparably damaged structures, the primary concern is to bring the structure to the ground safely. Once the structure is reduced to a safe condition, the focus can shift to sorting and managing the resulting waste. Typically, concrete rubble will either be crushed for reuse in shaping and backfilling activities or removed to spoil.
Steel is recycled, while hazardous materials such as light ballasts or electronic waste are removed to hazardous waste disposal.“Jet Demolition regularly assists property owners and insurers to estimate the demolition costs associated with these projects or advising on the most appropriate approach to bring the structure safely to the ground,” Bester highlighted. However, the challenge is that demolition methods are often prescribed in requests for proposals (RFIs) based on experience and may not be the best option for damaged structures. Equipment “We add value by advising potential clients or insurers on more appropriate and risk-adverse methods more suited to the actual condition of the structure,” said Bester. The equipment deployed on a damaged structure varies from a 1.4-tonne mini excavator to enter extremely confined spaces to a 102-tonne high-reach demolition excavator capable of tackling a structure mechanically without the need for persons to enter into unsafe or structurally unsound environments. “We own a fleet of specialised plant and equipment, ensuring we are able to respond appropriately to the task at hand without introducing any unnecessary or additional risk,” said Bester. Related stories: KZN launches new pothole repair campaign | Infrastructure news