Taxi driver, Samuel Lambane painfully looks at his taxi that was stuck in the road rapture, he said the ordeal has left him traumatised. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya

A suspected gas explosion on one of Johannesburg’s busiest streets, has led to one fatality and scores of injuries and hospitalisations.   

It was an ordinary Wednesday evening, with peak time traffic picking up and queues filled with passengers waiting for a ride home, when taxi driver, Samuel Lambane suddenly saw a blue spark and then a loud bang.  

“I saw a massive blue spark like it was a lightning bolt and then I heard the sound of two explosions coming in front and behind me,” Lambane said. His taxi was briefly airborne before hitting the ground with a thud that shattered all the windows. He said he jumped to the conclusion that it might be an earthquake.

The explosion experienced by Lambane and others on July 19, remains an active crime scene as police and other authorities begin to investigate the root cause of incident.  

Another eyewitness, Sanele Gumede told Wits Vuvuzela that the lingering smell of gas in the air “is very concerning”, especially as almost 16 hours had passed since the incident. Officials on site handed out face masks to some to respond to the air quality concern on Thursday morning.  

To keep residents, business owners and the public at large safe, the area has been cordoned off and several streets completely closed off. Shops on Bree, Eloff, Simmonds, Harrison, Loveday and Lillian Ngoyi streets have also been shuttered down as a precaution.Speaking at a media briefing at the temporary disaster management operations centre set up at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi said no cause has been identified as yet.  

Egoli Gas, a supplier of piped natural gas in the city, released a statement on social media refuting reports that faulty gas lines may be to blame.  

But Lesufi said: “Egoli gas remains our centre of focus because all of us agree that the cause of this either explosion or impact is gas.” 

For now, dealing with the impact on human lives remains key. Lesufi said rehabilitation of affected areas must happen speedily to reduce the “impact on the economic activity of the city.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: Taxi flipped over at Bree Street in CBD after the gas explosion. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya