Computers are still off almost a year later

2019-08-15 06:00
Computers at the Hector Petersen Library in Lwandle have been off almost a year.PHOTO: velani ludidi

Computers at the Hector Petersen Library in Lwandle have been off almost a year.PHOTO: velani ludidi

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It is close to a year since City Vision published the article “Offline for three months”, which was about computers not working at Hector Petersen Library in Lwandle (4 October 2018).

It seems nothing has been done to try and fix the computers, and a year has almost passed since they have been offline.

Learners from eight schools (three high schools and five primary schools) in need of the internet are forced to walk about eight kilometres, or pay the R11 taxi fare to go to either Somerset West or Strand library.

Learners cross the railway line connecting Strand and Van der Stel railway stations, which is runs behind Asanda Village, when walking to Somerset Library.

Community member Zolile Witbooi said the matter has been reported countless times to the municipality.

“The issue we have is not only the computers, but the size of the library, which is also too small for a community such as ours,” he said.

“Children as young as 13 walk to Somerset, and for a parent only too aware of the current epidemic of violent deaths of women and children this is worrying.”

Witbooi said the municipality should have moved long ago and offered a wireless internet connection.

“The use of wires is old, and wires get stolen. Why can’t we move with the times and have wireless internet connection? We want Wi-Fi while they attend to the computers.”

The library has only five computers and has no Wi-Fi connection option to smartphones and laptops, compared to the other two libraries.

One librarian who spoke anonymously said the City has stopped talking of extending the library in the near future.

“There are unemployed people who come here and students who wish to apply for tertiary study. We turn them all away because the computers are off. The library is small and needs to be extended, it is in a big yard, but the City is not willing to extend it.”

The computers are deemed useless when there is no internet, and they are always switched off.

The operating software used on them needs an internet connection for users to log onto them.

Mayoral Committee member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien, confirmed that it has been more than a year since the computers last operated.

“The Telkom line providing internet access for SmartCape computers were stolen,” he said. “Owing to continuing cable theft in the area, Telkom advised it will not reinstate services, and this has forced the City to look at an alternative solution, such as upgrading a radio connection to allow the SmartCape services to be added to it.”

Badroodien said the process of upgrading takes longer and that there have been no alternatives offered for computer users.

“Regrettably there is no other short-term solution available due to the excessive-high data costs associated with 3G, and ongoing vandalism and theft of infrastructure. Owing to financial constraints, no extensions are on the cards in the near future.”

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