Home News Fibre company to remove poles in City’s heritage areas

Fibre company to remove poles in City’s heritage areas

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The installation of the overhead poles, especially in heritage areas, caused an uproar in the city with residents demanding answers about who had given authorisation for the development.

Pictures: Danie van der Lith

THE FIBRE company, Frogfoot Networks, has announced that it will remove its aerial pole infrastructure in heritage areas of Kimberley, including Belgravia, Memorial Road and Klisserville, from today, Monday 21 September.

The installation of the overhead poles, especially in heritage areas, caused an uproar in the city with residents demanding answers about who had given authorisation for the development.

The company confirmed in a statement issued on Monday that it would remove its aerial pole infrastructure in all heritage areas.

Frogfoot is an open-access fibre infrastructure provider and a subsidiary of Vox.

Jacques du Toit, CEO of Vox, said on Monday that the company had worked closely with the Sol Plaatje Municipality to obtain the necessary wayleaves and followed due process for the rollout of fibre infrastructure.

“After we started with the build, we were notified by members of the public that some areas were classified as heritage sites, following which we immediately stopped work. Working together with the community and the authorities, Frogfoot fully understands the sensitivity and will remove poles in these areas,” Du Toit said.

“It was never the intent to disrupt any heritage areas. We are committed to re-instating the areas as soon as possible.”

Du Toit added that while Frogfoot was awaiting the confirmation of the full extent of heritage sites that may fall within the coverage area from Ngwao Boswa Ya Kapa Bokone (the Northern Cape Heritage Resources Authority), it was planning to remove poles from areas, including Belgravia, Memorial Road Area and Klisserville.

“Our teams are standing by to begin work as soon as Monday 21 September,” he said.

Du Toit confirmed further that Frogfoot had appointed an independent heritage consultant to do the required heritage studies to inform and recommend the most suitable implementation of the infrastructure.

“Frogfoot will also provide local authorities and the community with a detailed plan of the installed poles in the heritage areas, in an effort to ensure that all heritage sites are cleared of the company’s infrastructure.”

The company undertook to also make detailed maps available of its entire network in order to avoid any further confusion, pointing out that there was existing telecommunications infrastructure in place as well as other builds being conducted by other fibre operators.

Frogfoot announced its move into Kimberley as the first independent fibre provider in “the historic city of Kimberley”.

“This ensures residents in the capital of the Northern Cape province have access to reliable, high-speed connectivity which has become imperative following last year’s announcement that Telkom is terminating fixed-line copper services, including ADSL,” it said in an earlier statement.

The company pointed out, however, at the time, that with Kimberley situated in a rocky area, electrical cables, water pipes, and the sewage system were at shallower depths than they would ordinarily be. “The result is that a traditional fibre trenching roll-out would risk damage to these services.” it stated.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, Frogfoot worked closely with the council to find an alternative solution. The parties jointly decided that going the aerial route would be the least disruptive option. Not only would this mitigate the challenges of the lead-housed electrical cables that could impact on the fibre installation, but it is the least invasive to avoid any damage to existing infrastructure in the city,” Shane Chorley, Head of Sales and Marketing at Frogfoot, said.

This saw the deployment of cables on poles similar in approach to how telephone lines used to be installed.

“It is a faster way of installing fibre and guarantees that no infrastructure is damaged. With ADSL coming to end of life soon, fibre provides residents with not only a more cost-effective form of connectivity, but it also future-proofs their internet access as the technology can easily be upgraded with no additional infrastructure installations required.”

Many residents, however, were unimpressed, pointing out that the already dilapidated state of Kimberley was declining even further, with the tar being dug up, paving stones removed, and unsightly tar poles erected in front of houses.

It was pointed out that in some instances, the poles had been placed on the pavements of properties that were heritage sites, without any permission from the necessary historical society.

Picture: Danie van der Lith

“In some instances, the poles have pulled skew as a result of the wires, making them unsightly and affecting people’s properties. They are even safety risks in some instances, as they have been placed so close to walls, they make it easy for criminals to scale over into people’s yards,” the Democratic Alliance said in a statement.

The party called on the Sol Plaatje municipality, and the acting Municipal Manager Boy Dhluwayo, to provide clarity on who had given the authorisation for the Frogfoot project.

“It cannot be that a municipality, that claims to know nothing about this company, simply sits by and watches as the company turns the city into a massive construction site, regularly piercing cables and water pipes, as it goes ahead.

“This is something that Kimberley, which already has countless water issues and resultant water shutdowns, can ill afford,” the party stated.