Claremont’s trenching concerns

The aftermath of the trenching in Garfield Road, Claremont

Claremont residents are happy to have fibre coming to their neighbourhood, but they’re less thrilled with the way the trenches are being dug for the cables.

They claim that a few months ago another unknown company dug up the paving and destroyed certain areas to make way for the cabling underground.

Hilary Goldsmith was bothered at the sight of construction vehicles once again setting up shop in the area, and even though they were notified about the work, she said it became an “inconvenience” and the surrounds became an “eyesore”.

“There was this muddy line running right down the pavement. We had to put up with this not too long ago lots of people also raised questions. In no time, another company pops up and intends to do the same. How does the City not get involved and run this by the residents first?” Ms Goldsmith asked.

She said they understood the importance of the installation, but it was proving very disruptive.

“Large parts of the ground are dug for these cables and it’s not a simple process of just installing a tiny piece of cabling. The ground is dug up and the area is left as is when the company is done installing the cables,” she said.

Another resident, Rowan Williams, said they would have liked more information about the process.

Mr Williams saidthat he had received a notice from a company called Octotel, informing residents that trenches would be dug, but felt that many of them still did not know why.

“There were people obviously asking questions about this process, but I just feel the correct way should have been to call residents together and educate them about the importance of installing these fibre cables,” he said.

“Whether we like it or not, we’re becoming a lot more technologically advanced these days, but there are people who still have a very old school way of thinking.”

John October also had work being carried out in front of his doorstep and said he was in favour of the installation.

“The companies are all in competition with each other. Yes, it obviously does some damage to the paving, but that cannot replace the value of the cables being installed and we will only be thankful of that at some stage down the line,” he said.

Meanwhile Ernst Burger, the implementation manager for Octotel: Open Access Fibre Networks, said: “I completely understand the concerns with re-digging in the area.”

He added that there had been constant contact with residents, and, after explaining their process clearly and meeting with residents at their homes, some residents understood and agreed to them continuing with their work.

Octotel offers a suburb-wide fibre connection, placing a break out at every home so that one of their 18 service providers can assist people who have placed fibre orders with them.

He, however, played down concerns that the company leaves the area untidy, and said: “We do not leave an area untidy and make sure that the residents are pleased with the state of their verges after we have concluded our work there.

“We also have our engineers who walk the entire route, and we then request the local roads department to come and do a final inspection and sign off. We are then still completely liable for any issues in the area for the following year and will repair any signs of sagging or faults.”

Before work commences in an area, Ototel holds public mettings to explain the process, and they leave contact details in case there are any queries.

“We are always available to assist the residents where we can. We have dedicated site-liaison officers per area, and then there is a roaming implementation officer who, in this case, was the first to deal with concerned residents. I then also roam the different locations they are busy in and make sure that I personally attend to the residents who are unhappy,” Mr Burger said.

The Tatler asked the City of Cape Town for comment but did not receive a response by the time this edition went to print.