Fibre complaints continue

Elton Jansen, councillor for Ward 43 and chairman of Sub-council 23

During the last few months, I have been inundated with complaints emanating from the fibre installation project, ranging from burst water pipes to damage to electricity cables, road infrastructure and private property.

Even though fibre is needed and beneficial in our community, we cannot accept poor workmanship and damage to infrastructure.

We must also note that with every construction project there will be a degree of inconvenience, and, on behalf of the City of Cape Town, I would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused during this project.

This is a private project, and Vumatel has obtained the necessary permissions from the City to install the fibre network in the Strandfontein and surrounding area, which in the end will be beneficial to all internet users.

I have had several meetings with Vumatel and their consultants to express the community’s frustration with the poor workmanship and inconvenience caused when water pipes and electricity cables were damaged due to incorrect readings from their equipment.

This was subsequently addressed with the relevant subcontractors, and, where property was damaged, the sub-contractor will be held accountable by Vumatel to fix it.

According to City officials, the number of incidents have dropped. However, I would like to encourage all residents to report to my office any defects or damages to their property as a result of the fibre installation so that we can make sure all cases are being attended to by Vumatel.

This is the undertaking they gave me in a meeting held on Monday November 25 at my sub-council office.

I was also informed that construction is 90% complete and that they are now busy with reinstatements.

Please assist my office to make sure that reinstatement happens according to an acceptable standard.

Vumatel will also be responsible for the repairs to City infrastructure, and their work will not be signed off by council until the area is left the way they found it.

They will also be billed for water lost from pipes damaged during their activity.

We will monitor all complaints until its resolved.

All complaints should be sent to Stephanie.George@capetown.gov.za, at my office who will coordinate this and escalate it to Vumatel.

Ewald van der Westhuizen, regional director for Vumatel/Mitchells Fibre, responds:

After starting in Strandfontein, we quickly learned that residents prefer to log issues through their respective ward councillor and/or ratepayers’ association and did not always raise concerns with us directly.

When we were made aware of these concerns, we had meetings with both Elton Jansen, councillor for Ward 43 and chairman of Sub-council 23, and Strandfontein Ratepayers’ Association to understand the frustrations so that we can take action and rectify these immediately.

The meeting was productive and was followed by another public meeting held Wednesday November 13.

We also had a meeting with the City’s water, electrical and road authorities on Thursday November 7 to review and learn from the mistakes that had been made.

Before our meeting, there was a total of 69 service damages recorded. After our meetings, the damages reduced dramatically, and only 10 were recorded.

This is testament to the fact that we stay committed to ensure that our deployment is of the best quality.

We’re also happy that Mr Jansen offered the services of Stephanie George, who assists us with the co-ordination of any queries that are received, and we would like to thank them for their service.

We received a total of 54 resident issues out of the 6 514 homes in the Strandfontein area.

The area has just over 70 000km of trenching, drilling and underground fibre work of which less than 1km remains to be built.

We truly understand that the process of installing fibre in the suburb can be a painful process, but, again, we strongly believe that the benefits of having affordable, uncapped fibre internet far outweighs the short-term inconvenience during the civil phase.

All issues logged and escalated to us have been resolved and feedback provided back to the ward councillor’s office.

We are in the final stages of taking the last zone in Strandfontein live by mid-December.

The project will then be wrapped up, and we will start signing off the work that has been completed.

Every school that we pass will also receive a free uncapped fibre line.