Electronic communication companies and service providers that have become accustomed to free-for-all digging up and laying of cables in the public road reserve in Pretoria will find the going harder in the near future.
|Roads are dug up in Mamelodi. Companies laying electronic cables next to roads, disrupting traffic.|
The City of Tshwane has approved laws and regulations, more than a decade in the making, to control and co-ordinate the increasing volume and complexity of services in the road reserve.
The law, once promulgated, will apply to all roads in the capital, including those in residential areas, highways and all major arterial roads, and could lead to a more organised, neat and law-abiding city, if strongly enforced.
Failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to R10 000 for each day, or three years in jail. The penalty could be higher if so determined by the court.
The new by-law will give the municipality the right to decide on protected road surfaces and areas based on their importance and possible engineering difficulties, and whether the road has been newly constructed or resurfaced. No work can be carried out in those areas.
Work on road reserves, and associated dangers such as damage to roads, other services and cars, have increased in recent years.
The metro attributes this to an increase in the number of electronic communication companies and contractors placing new services, mainly fibre-optic cables, in and around the city. The market was previously dominated by Telkom, Vodacom and MTN, but has grown significantly with the emergence of Cell C and Neotel.
The growth has yielded an increase in the demand for highspeed broadband capacity for data transfer and internet connections.
In terms of the new law, only holders of a valid permit may do or order maintenance, upgrading, alterations and excavations to be carried out in the public road reserve. They may also do vehicular and pedestrian control when necessary.
The work must be in accordance with procedures and specifications as set out in the original application.
Approval of applications for the work will be subject to technical compliance with the standards and other related work planned by the municipality.
Once permission has been granted and work has been carried out, the permit holder must undertake reinstatement of the road and pavement surfaces.
While work is being done, it will be the responsibility of the permit holder to ensure that all laws about traffic, safety and signage are complied with.
However, the City of Tshwane said that permits did not give the holders the right to close the road completely to traffic.
Special permission would be given for emergency work, subject to conditions set out by the city.
City of Tshwane DA caucus chairman Peter Millar said in his role as ward councillor, he had always received numerous complaints about abuse of the road reserves and trenches that were dug and left open for months, posing a danger to pedestrians and motorists. The trenches were also unsightly and filled up with litter.
'The main culprits are normally the telecommunications companies, and very often, it is difficult to get reaction from them.
'Their attitude was, 'So what are you going to do about it?' Well, let them be warned that we are now doing something about it,' Millar said.
'Another culprit is construction companies that encroach on to the road reserve and eventually take it over completely, causing disruptions and a danger to pedestrians and motorists.'
However, Millar said the by-law would have meaning only if it was properly and vigorously enforced.