While many Port Alfred residents are enthusiastic about fibre internet coming to Port Alfred, many have also raised concerns and complaints about the poles being erected for an aboveground network as well as the trenches that were dug for the underground feeder network.
Herotel was the first fibre company to start installing fibre in Port Alfred, but TotT has heard others are now also active.
Herotel’s website explained the preference for an aboveground network was to keep down costs and to cause minimal inconvenience.
“We believe it is better to build fibre networks above the ground by planting a single pole in the telecommunications servitude between you and your neighbours. We have learned through experience that trenching (digging holes for fibre cables) can cause unforeseen damage to driveways, walls and prize-winning flower gardens.
“It is also a slow, expensive process that, because of the costs, end up in higher monthly subscription fees for residents,” Herotel’s website states.
Nevertheless, trenches were required to be dug along arterial routes for the feeder network to connect Port Alfred to the national fibre network.
TotT received the first complaint more than a month ago from a resident concerned with Herotel’s approach in having poles erected in suburban yards.
The resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said a Herotel representative in a branded orange vehicle had stopped outside her property, waved a piece of paper and asked her to sign a permission form to erect poles on her property. There was no explanation of what the structure would look like, its impact, or what building approvals were required.
There have been similar complaints from other residents since then. When residents have declined to have such a pole in their yard, they were dismayed to find it going up in their neighbour’s yard.
Resident Jacobus Grove complained about both the poles and the trenches. In a post on the Port Alfred Residents and Ratepayers Association Facebook page he wrote: “Very concerned about the fibre poles going up in the properties. Really becoming an eyesore in Port Alfred.”
He also posted photos of the condition of the verge outside his property after two trenches had been dug – the second one after workers came across a cable.
Colleen Denniss agreed, and said: “Here in Forest Downs there are no overhead cables other than the street lights so now why in earth would we want poles and cables strung everywhere. People should think twice as to what cost one has to pay to get a faster internet service.
“I hope they also repair all the sidewalks and verges as well as they have been left in a shocking state,” she added.
TotT has also noticed the state of verges where trenches have been dug along various streets, especially in Atherstone Road.
The filled-in trenches have not been compacted and smoothed out. Rocks are scattered on top and alongside and spill into the storm water drain.
Also, whereas TotT saw Herotel workers in Hill Street replacing the brick paving in a driveway after laying the fibre, in Atherstone Road the brick pavers at one house were not replaced. At one time the bricks were stacked in the storm drain, awaiting the workers to come back to make good, now the bricks have disappeared and the driveway filled in with soil where the pavers are missing.
TotT’s query to Herotel head of marketing Frans de Villiers was forwarded to Border Internet general manager Anne Bhagwan, who said their project manager and site supervisors were continually working to insure that home owners’ concerns are addressed and taken into account.
“We would like to ensure residents that the plan has always been to do all the proper reinstatements of the roads, but just all at the same time once all trenches are complete. This is still the case and our local teams are starting this process,” Bhagwan said.
Any resident may address their concerns to Bhagwan by calling her on 087-350-4000 or by visiting their Face Book page, https://www.facebook.com/borderinternet/ or directing e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Since this article appeared in the printed newspaper, Herotel has tidied up some trenches and replaced the missing brick pavers at the home in Atherstone Road.