Fibre fight continues

Municipality wants to enter IT arena

17 February 2020 | Infrastructure

Yolanda Nel Although the City of Windhoek (CoW) indicated two years ago that they won’t continue allowing IT service provider Paratus to install fibre optic services in the city due to their intention to expand their own fibre infrastructure, the municipality does not have the necessary telecommunication license in place to do so.
In the Government Gazette of 22 February 2019, it was stated that the City of Windhoek had applied for a telecommunication licence.
In a statement by Katrina Sikeni, head of corporate communication at the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), the application was submitted last year but is still under consideration. “Once a decision is made, such decision will be published in the Government Gazette and all stakeholders will be informed accordingly,” she said.
An arbitration took place between the CoW and Paratus last Friday, after the former referred to a dispute of 2 August 2019 submitted to adjudication by CRAN. “The issue to be determined by the Authority pertains to whether the two parties comply with the provisions of the Communications Act that deal with the procedure for laying of fibre optic cables within municipal boundaries,” Sikeni said.
She added that a decision on the matter would be made within 30 days.
According to Paratus managing director Andrew Hall, they are unsure as to why CRAN decided to hear the matter at all. “The CoW is not in possession of a license to begin with, so why entertain this arbitration?” he charged.
Windhoek Express reported on Friday that Paratus employees and subcontractors were forced to cease operations in Nelson Mandela Avenue after City Police took possession of their property and equipment, because as per the City, “they were in contravention of a bylaw of a local authorities act”.
In a statement released by Paratus on Friday, the company said that the City Police also interfered with civil works on Wednesday of last week and under instruction from the CoW. “They issued a stoppage letter while Paratus was completing work in Katutura, laying fibre in an underserved area,” the statement read.
“Should the City of Windhoek continue stopping civil works, it could influence close to 100 labourers directly and indirectly, and can impact even more workers that would lose the means to provide for their families,” the statement continued.
Paratus had a stamped document on site on Thursday proving they had the necessary approval from CoW, dated December 2019, to continue work in Nelson Mandela Avenue.
On Saturday Hall said that they would continue with the legal procedings to retrieve their equipment that was seized by City Police last week.

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