Phone booth an ‘urban blight’

Abandoned telephone booths are vadalised and destroyed.

As cellphones become more accessible by the day, phone booths are becoming a thing of the past and also a bit of a headache.

The abandoned phone booths are becoming unsightly as they get vandalised and tagged with graffiti.

Ward councillor Ian Iversen said the “empty shells” were spread across the city and served no purpose other than to cause problems.

“It is obvious that Telkom is not going to repair the telephone booths, as everybody has a cellphone these days.

“Therefore, Telkom needs to appoint a contractor to remove what has become urban blight and hand them in for recycling,” he said.

“The empty shells of booths litter the environment in all suburbs spread across the city.”

In his ward, two abandoned phone booths are found in Belvedere Road, in Claremont, outside the Choo Choo Park, and Mr Iversen said he knows of similar “dead soldiers” in the Claremont CBD and near the Newlands swimming pool.

“This issue has nothing to do with the City of Cape Town – it is a Telkom problem. Residents are fed up with phone booths, because they are just pieces of junk along the pavements of the city, which also become black boards for graffiti,” Mr Iversen said.

He said Telkom’s call centre had ignored requests over the years to attend to the matter.

Felicity Roland, from Newlands, agreed, saying some of the booths were vandalised to a point where only half of the booth was left behind, with wiring exposed.

“The guys break up these booths, destroy it so that when they hand it into the scrap yard, they cannot be identified as being the phone booth, because I think they get into trouble for that.”

Ms Roland said she too had complained to Telkom several times, but all she received was: “Your query has been noted and one of our employees will contact you shortly.”

“I made those queries last year, in May – up until today, not even a message or a call to say that we are looking into your complaint. Poor service delivery,” Ms Roland said.

Rosebank resident Adam Matthews, said a “stripped” phone booth on the Main Road was now used by car guards as shelter and it had also suffered major damage.

“There is no glass in the booth. The phone and the whole unit has been ripped out – there are sharp edges all around the booth and evidence of people having tried to steal the booth. Why do we still have these booths?”

He also complained to Telkom after seeing some teenagers vandalising the booth, but he never received a response.

“If Telkom are happy to drag their name through the mud like that, it’s their thing, but it goes beyond that, because these things are becoming an eyesore. They look outdated, and one has to wonder if there is even a designated department at Telkom assigned to maintain these things,” Mr Matthews said.

The Tatler has approached Telkom for comment but received no response by the time of going to print.