Fibre installations damage City infrastructure
By Khuthala Nandipha
The relationship between three internet companies installing fibre-optic networks in Buffalo City and the Metro is a very lax one. The Metro does not have the correct names as they gave us "Zerotel, Telengana and Frogfoot". The Eastern Cape Rising Sun was last week unable to reach two of these companies, as they do not exist. The actual names of the companies are HeroTel Border Internet and Telelanga Trading.
The companies have been accused by residents of leaving a mess after digging and installing cables. Councillor for the most affected ward, Ward 4, Tessa Botha said the project has been a huge mess since its inception. Botha was contacted by Telelanga Trading, wishing to start work in her areas this January. Botha is a Councillor for Selborne, Highgate, Cambridge West, Cambridge Town, Chiselhurst, Garcia, and Berea.
According to her, there are several damaged water pipes on a daily basis, with the most severe being a pipe in Vincent:
“Residents appreciate having the luxury of fibre but people are frustrated by the inconvenience of having no water and electricity when the workers damage water pipes and electrical cables. We are experiencing water restrictions, it is alarming to know how much water is being wasted,” she said.
The Metro is aware of the mess created by the digging of trenches by some of these companies. Spokesperson for the Metro, Samkelo Ngwenya said, “Residents can direct their queries to the companies when they leave the construction site without properly fixing pavements and driveways in the same way they found them.” However, there are no signages or contact details at any of these sites.
Kayleigh Rossler, Marketing Specialist for Frogfoot said her company is only working in Blue Bend, Beacon Bay as is scheduled to finish this May. She assured that residents can speak to the supervisor on site if they are unhappy about the work done.
Following our article, “Fibre installations leave a mess” on February 25, more home owners have reported damaged water pipes that have either been buried or left leaking water.
Lungisile Sibaca of Hart Road in Chislehurst had his fence broken and water pipes damaged. They are both yet to be attended to. “The workers do not know which company they work for, and they do not know the nature of the project. All they know is, they are here to dig,” said Sibaca who received no notification when the work started a week ago.
Another resident of French Road in Cambridge says her water pipes were damaged by the diggers and they just buried it and continued with stage two, installing cables with the water running underneath.
When the workers clean up and finalise work in one area, we caught them disposing the debris across the road on Olympic Road, Cambridge. A Telelanga Trading sub-contractor claims that they have trucks that are for disposing through the correct channels.
HeroTel Border Internet, a local fibre company has been installing fibre in Vincent and claims that digging related mess cannot be attributed to them. Formerly known as Border Internet, the company was rebranded as Herotel Border in February 2020. General Manager Anne Bhagwan, said their aim is to cause as little disruption to the residents as possible.
“We opted to construct an aerial fibre network wherever it is feasible, rather than to dig trenches. Our team members, dressed in Herotel Border uniform, will be approaching residents for permission to plant poles within the servitude on the property boundary line. In gratitude for allowing us to build our network in their neighbourhood, we will be offering special promotional package prices for the residents who assist us,” said Bhagwan.
She added that their teams will do no damage and will always clean up where they have worked – because they also live in these neighbourhoods.
A Telelanga Trading sub-contractor who did not want to be named said the company had written and distributed letters to all households that would be affected, informing them of the upcoming project. However, not a single resident that we spoke to had received a letter.
“We take before and after photos to ensure that we restore pathways and paving. Where a meter has been broken, we fix it, whether it was by us or we found it like that. If it is too complicated, we refer it to the municipality. We are going to be in East London for a very long time,” said the sub-contractor.
Samkelo Ngwenya said, “as much as we welcome the opportunity that the installation of fibre presents for our residents, we are concerned about the operational matters and we have raised these concerns with the service providers. The costs incurred on any of the faults made, be it water-related or paving, are incurred by those who make them. We are hoping for minimum disruptions as the project continues.”
The Telelanga Trading sub-contractor on the ground offered to assist Sibaca, provided that the workers on her street belong to her team.
“If contractors break something, we do not inform the owner of the house, we just fix it.”
Telelanga Trading spokesperson, Dorian Kensley was unable to answer our questions sent on Thursday afternoon.
“I will look at the questions, and then consult our legal team,” he said.