Bylaws for fitting cables

2019-02-13 15:15
Cable trenches dug up by contractors across Zwartkop Road.

Cable trenches dug up by contractors across Zwartkop Road. (Ian Carbutt)

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Constructors found guilty of damaging municipal infrastructure while installing underground telecommunications cables are set to be fined up to R1 million, as the City cracks down on offenders.

This comes after council passed the wayleave bylaws, which are aimed at curbing incidents of contractors who are not repairing the roads and pavements after installing telecommunications cables.

In terms of the Electronic Communications Act, licensed telecommunications companies have the power to enter onto any land and to construct electronic communications facilities “upon, under, over, along or across such land”.

The municipality previously did not have such wayleave bylaws regulating contractors but they were not stopped from carrying on with their work as that would have been against the law.

As part of the application for wayleave by companies, the municipality may require a physical plan of work which would include the intended placement of cables or wires. Notices may also need to be given to residents, property owners and businesses next to the place where installation will be done.

When giving its approval, Msunduzi may attach conditions such as the provision of warning signs and barriers as well as access crossing for vehicles and pedestrians.

The contractors may also be prohibited from using mechanical trenching equipment.

The bylaw gives the City power to restrict the contractors in terms of the size of the open trench as well as the maximum duration of work in any given area or locality.

In some cases the municipality may require the licencee to pay some tariff for using its land as well as refundable and non-refundable deposits prior to commencement of the work, including security deposits.

A City official delegated to the project has the power to “stop work being done without his authority or in contravention of the conditions attached to the approval”.

The bylaw also entitles the municipality to undertake remedial work where the quality of that done by the contractor is found to be below the standards imposed by Msunduzi.

The costs “may be recovered from any security deposit to the municipality, or in the event that such security deposit is in sufficient, from the licencee,” reads the bylaw.

Failure to comply with the conditions imposed during the approval of the company’s application and not stopping work when instructed to do so could see the offenders imprisoned or fined up to R1 million, and R5 000 a day for ongoing offences.

Last week, council approved the bylaws to be published in the provincial gazette.

DA councillor Ross Strachan welcomed the news of the bylaws, saying there had been a problem in the past few years with contractors coming into the city to install fibre optic cable and causing damage to the roads and water infrastructure.

He said not having relevant bylaws in place was costing the municipality a lot of money in repairing the damage left behind.

ANC’s Manqoba Ngubo said the non-monitoring of the contractors put Msunduzi at a disadvantage because they could not hold them accountable. He said most of last year there were trenches dug up and left unrepaired for months on roads and pavements across the city.

“We are shooting ourselves in the foot as the municipality if we allow people to come to our area, do whatever they like, then leave.”

Senior manager for City entities Sipho Zimu said the municipality previously tried to take some of the contractors to court but lost because there were no wayleave bylaws in place.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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