Pavement damaged as fibre installed

When Vumatel was installing fibre in Kenridge in March 2017 they notified residents that they would be digging trenches and promised that all damage would be repaired and the paving restored to its original condition.

But it wasn’t, said Wendy Urquhart. “Vumatel dug up the front and the side pavement at my property causing extensive damage. I told Vumatel and sent them images showing the workmen digging with bits of torn bidem all over the place,” Ms Urquhart said.

“I spoke to numerous people and was promised that the damage would be repaired. Not one person has come to see me in spite of all the promises and nothing has been done to repair the affected area. The driveway bricks were replaced and one of the holes in an irrigation pipe has been repaired but the rest has not been touched. Vumatel has not kept its promise. A message from Vuma on April 28, said ‘your query has been escalated to the project manager who will be in contact with you to discuss the way forward’,” Ms Urquhart said.

But the buck stopped there and didn’t go any further.

However, Hayley of the Fibrehoods team did email Ms Urquhart that “the resident liaison has assessed your property and he needs to just go through the before photos to compare. Once he has done so we will have more news on the way forward”.

However, the resident liaison didn’t liaise with Ms Urquhart although she specifically requested to be at the site meeting.

She told Hayley that most of the damage is below the surface.

“All the grey and black material visible in the images are pieces of the bidem (bidem is a woven geotextile, used for drainage and filtration systems), which were just tossed down anyhow with sand and stone thrown on top of the pieces to finish off the job. A pretty poor show. This is my last attempt to resolve the problem amicably with Vumatel,” Ms Urquhart told Hayley.

But the buck was still with the project manager. Which was when Ms Urquhart contacted me.

I was only able to attend to Ms Urquhart’s complaint at the end of September.

However, Vuma’s website is not exactly a mine of information. There’s no mention of the CEO but there is a complaints email address: buildct@vumatel.co.za and I also managed to get the CEO’s name. I sent Ms Urquhart’s letter to Hayley (who said she would escalate it to the correct department), to the complaints email address and the managing director, Dietlof Mare.

Soon after, Ms Urquhart, said: “I am so impressed with the reaction that your letter to Vuma has brought about. Two men, Henry and Robin, were at my gate to discuss the work and I am satisfied that they understand what has to be done and they promised to start work soon. Giorgio Iovino, Vumatel’s regional director, told me work would be done as soon as the weather allows,” Ms Urquhart said.

Mr Iovino confirmed they sent a team to Ms Urquhart, but regrettably they dropped the ball on this one.

“Our team did not engage with Ms Urquhart before any remedial work was done in order to understand and deal with her specific concerns: irrigation, the damaged bidem and stones, and we did not follow up to confirm she was satisfied.

This is part of our process, but was not completed by my team and this has been addressed internally,” said Mr Iovino who explained that Vumatel was installing fibre to the home network throughout the municipality.

However, they have to get a wayleave (permission) from the roads department and the conditions are that the sidewalk is returned to its original condition and that Vumatel appoints an independent consulting engineer to ensure quality standards are met.

Later, Mr Iovino said the work has been completed to Ms Urquhart’s satisfaction.

“The Vuma team of workers have finished the job. I am absolutely delighted with the wonderful job that they have done. They were under the supervision of Henry who kept me constantly informed and what the next step would be. They were all extremely friendly, polite and very hardworking. Vuma can really be proud of all of them. I will contact Giorgio, Wilbur and Robin to tell them how impressed I am with the team and the very high standard of their work which is completely to my satisfaction,” Ms Urquhart said.

“My grateful thanks to you, Brian, for bringing this matter to such a happy ending after this long, frustrating battle.

“The end result is beyond all my expectations. You are definitely my hero.”