Businesses battling without telephones

2015-02-17 00:00

FRUSTRATED business owners in central Pietermaritzburg entered a second week without their phones yesterday and demanded Telkom fix the issue before more business was lost.

Two weeks ago, Msunduzi municipal workers damaged a major Telkom cable while installing solar panel street lights which cut phone lines to businesses across the CBD.

As business owners battle a second week without telephones to connect them to customers, they say the issue is more serious than expected.

Pietermaritzburg CV Joints owner Rex Boreham said businesses all over the CBD have been affected.

“I had a customer drive all the way from Greytown last week to see if I was still in business,” he said.

“Just today, I spoke to four business owners who say their lines are down and I know of eight other places that have been affected too.”

Boreham said Telkom had diverted his landline calls through to a cellphone but said it “was not ideal”.

He added none of his speed point machines worked and customers had to draw money first if they wanted to purchase anything from his store.

He said he had received no ­indication from the Msunduzi ­Municipality or Telkom as to when the problem would be solved and said it was “extremely frustrating”.

Govender’s Garage manager Seenie Kanavathy said his salesmen had resorted to using their own ­cellphones to communicate with their customers.

“Our business is predominantly phone-based so it has affected our business tremendously,” he said.

Kanavathy added that Telkom had told them they would divert their land line calls to a cellphone last week but were “still waiting to hear from them”.

He said his business had heard from Midlands Communication last week that the issue would take two weeks to resolve but had not heard anything directly from Telkom.

Telkom spokesperson Pynee ­Chetty said last week that repairs to the cable were expected to take two weeks. “Network cables have been damaged on Longmarket Street between Boshoff Street and Commercial Road in the city centre.

“This area experiences heavy ­pedestrian traffic as well as vehicle traffic, which delays repair efforts.

“Telkom estimates that it will take a week to complete engineering work, and a further four days to re-connect customers,” said Chetty.

Managing executive for group communication at Telkom Jacqui O’Sullivan apologised to for the ­inconvenience, and said they were working hard to restore service as quickly as possible.

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