Workers get a pipe ready for the installation of fibre in an area in Cape Town earlier this year. Durban residents have said they are frustrated with water and electricity outages which they said was due to construction work being carried for the installation of fibre. | Ayanda Ndamane African News AGency(ANA)
Workers get a pipe ready for the installation of fibre in an area in Cape Town earlier this year. Durban residents have said they are frustrated with water and electricity outages which they said was due to construction work being carried for the installation of fibre. | Ayanda Ndamane African News AGency(ANA)

Fibre installations: Durban residents see red over electricity and water outages

By Nonhlanhla Nozizwe Hlatshwayo Time of article published May 13, 2021

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DURBAN - FRUSTRATED residents in some Durban suburbs say they are at their wits’ end over constant electricity and water outages which they claim are due to construction work for fibre installations.

Several residents, who did not want to be named because they feared victimisation, said their complaints had fallen on deaf ears. They claimed the construction work led to pipe bursts which especially affected water supply.

“We have been complaining about a burst pipe caused by the people digging trenches for fibre. We contacted the municipality and they came but informed us that the pipe is on our property. When we contact the company digging the trenches, they say we must contact the municipality,” said a resident in the Bulwer area.

A business owner in the same area said he had a problem with a sewer blockage.

“We’ve had jetting contractors in the area check it for us and they confirmed there was a fibre cable stuck in the sewage canal. It was also confirmed that it belongs to a certain company but they have denied it,” he said.

The resident said they experienced blockages every two weeks.

“We just want the company that placed this cable in this drain illegally on government property to remove it,” said the resident.

A resident in Glenmore said they were given short notice about the installation.

“I was told by one of my neighbours that there was a notice three days before the installations when I woke up to the holes in the pavements.

“These installations have been a huge problem leaving a mess. They dig big holes and leave them open for days, it seems like they do not check before digging. The holes they leave expose copper cables that people pinch and we end up without water

and electricity, people are also blocked from entering their driveways,” said the resident.

The DA said it had raised concerns about the issue with the eThekwini Municipality.

“Many Durban suburbs are in a terrible condition with damaged infrastructure, repeated interruptions to water and electricity networks and gaping holes and trenches across roads and pavements,” said Nicole Graham, eThekwini DA caucus leader.

Graham said the issue was raised

with the municipality’s senior management months ago but they claimed their hands were tied.

“The municipality claims to be hamstrung by national legislation, which allows licensed telecommunications service providers to install their cables and networks. Municipalities are responsible for granting wayleave agreements over their property.”

Graham said while the DA acknowledged the need for improved telecommunications networks, there seemed to be insufficient control to ensure that communities were not left with damaged infrastructure which affected important services during and after the installations.

“Some service providers conduct themselves properly and clean up after themselves, but not all do so,” she said.

The IFP said they had also received complaints about the matter.

“Our biggest concern is that it seems these installers do not talk to head of departments. We hear these people just come and work, and when there is damage no one is held accountable,” said Mdu Nkosi of the IFP.

Nkosi said while it left residents frustrated, their main concern was the money that has to be spent by the municipality trying to fix the damage.

“This affects the finances of the municipality. If there has been damage, people have to be charged for it. We cannot let residents be without water or electricity because we are trying to get a budget to fix the damages.”

Graham said they have now raised the matter with the DA national spokesperson for Communications, Telecommunications and the Postal Service, Zakhele Mbhele.

The eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, said the city has been receiving media queries regarding the issue.

“However, we have not recorded any official complaints. All the issues raised by the media have been or are in the process of being addressed,” he said.

THE MERCURY

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