DA lodges PAIA application for city’s MTN deal

Councillor Mmabatho Tembe at the site of the pole in Lena Ahrens Road.

A VISIT by the Democratic Alliance to the city’s Disaster Management Unit’s CCTV control room has revealed that none of the cameras installed on the controversial MTN masts erected across the city since October last year, are operational.

As a result, the DA has lodged an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain records of an alleged infrastructure sharing agreement between the Municipality and telecommunications giant, MTN.

Councillor Shaun Ryley, DA eThekwini Spokesperson on Security and Emergency, said the visit was conducted in an attempt to gain more information about the circumstances surrounding the masts and their subsequent use as cellphone towers by MTN. However, he said thus far attempts to find out more had been met with vague responses, bringing into question the intended purpose of the erection of the masts in the first place.

READ RELATED: DA queries city’s ‘secret’ deal with MTN

“Despite an urgent motion tabled at a full council sitting in May and the subsequent submission of questions to both the Security and Emergency Services Committee and full council in June, we are no closer to getting any clarity on how a number of masts intended for CCTV cameras and fitted with cell phone signal transmitters were installed in eThekwini,” said Ryley.

Andre van Rooyen shows the folder of research he has downloaded regarding the affects of cellphone masts on people.

He said a list of questions was submitted to Council Speaker, William Mapena, for inclusion in the June council agenda, but he had disallowed the questions to be tabled.

Consequently, the list of questions was emailed to the City Manager on Monday, 26 June, asking him to ensure they were answered by the close of business on Friday, 30 June. Despite his assurance that answers would be given, the deadline passed without any information being furnished.

Ryley said a request to meet with Mr Vincent Ngubane, Head of Disaster Management, on Monday, 3 July to discuss the matter in an attempt to get further information was turned down as Ngubane said he had already submitted a report to the city manager which contained the answers to the questions.

An oversight visit of the CCTV control room was conducted on 3 July, at the time of the requested meeting, and it was discovered that none of the new cameras that had been installed was working due to a delay in approval for fibre connections to connect the camera feed through to the central control room.

READ RELATED: MTN targets Glenwood’s anti-cell mast activist

“In response to this, a follow-up was done with the city manager on when we could expect Mr Ngubane’s report to be released. He, in turn, stated that he would follow up with the progress. To date, no information of substance has been received from any official,” he said.

Ryley said the City Manager will have 30 days within which to respond to the PAIA application which should provide answers about the contents of the agreement and how it came into being without any consultation with councillors or residents of the city.

  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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