Reinstate verges

Doug Calverey, Lakeside

The fibre installers have marauded through the southern suburbs like a band of ancient Vikings leaving chaos and devastation in their wake.

Electricity supplies have been disrupted, water mains broken and pavements and verges devastated.

They don’t do it once, but three or four times and I am informed that more operators are coming over the horizon.

Why not club together and install one sleeve containing all of their services in one foul swoop? One trench, one disruption, one reinstatement, thereby reducing installation costs and consequently reducing monthly premiums to the subscriber. But no, they arrive days and weeks apart.

One fibre installer excavates and reinstates driveways, paving and verges. Another follows days behind and digs up the verges in a separate trench.

Paved verges are re-opened in a different place where paving has already been lifted and replaced. A second trench is excavated through an asphalt-surfaced driveway, which has already been reinstated.

Is this good planning, good co-ordination, good cost containment and the way to prevent maximum annoyance and disturbance to ratepayers and home-owners with an election just three months away?

To add to that, I am informed by a City of Cape Town spokesperson that only two of the fibre operators, Frogfoot and Octotel, have work permits issued by the City.

Municipal regulations require that work permits, wayleave certificates and various other insurance, health and safety, traffic accommodation and environmental approvals must be in place before one grass sod is lifted.

The reinstatement must also be carried out so that the completed verge must be in the same condition or better than the condition before work started. What I see is the following:

Previously healthy grassed verges destroyed with surplus soil not removed, but spread over the whole verge causing die-off of the grass. Dust from previously grassed verges is blowing everywhere in the wind.

Grass sods are not carefully removed and replaced after backfilling. All surplus soils must be removed from grassed verges with the grass thereby exposed and reinstated.

Asphalt-surfaced driveways have been damaged because brick edgings have been undermined and the 75mm thick G5 gravel base has not been reinstated or compacted.

They spread a 20mm layer of gravel over the surface and compact from the top without adding water to achieve optimum moisture content and minimum density.

These driveways will show settlement after a few months.

The completed gravel base must get a full cover of bitumen prime coat to ensure penetration into the base and bonding with the 30mm minimum thickness asphalt surfacing.

Asphalt edges must be cut with a mechanical saw to neat straight lines and then painted with bitumen before the hot asphalt is placed.

This is not done. Bitumen is spattered over the gravel base using a brush. Some trenches are hacked through driveways without any edge control.

Where more than one trench is hacked through a driveway, I propose that the whole driveway should be resurfaced to its original condition.

Many verges are covered with a layer of black damp-proof-course (DPC) sheeting and then covered with 75mm clean stone chips. The DPC is to prevent weed growth. The excavators hack through the DPC and make no attempt to reinstate it after backfilling.

The sand backfill material is mixed with the stone chips and replaced on the trench with no attempt to reinstate the 75mm clean stone layer. This will become a weed nightmare.

These verges will all have to be redone with DPC plastic sheeting replaced with an acceptable overlap and the stone/sand mix will have to be sieved to remove the sand.

Surplus sand backfill must be removed from the stone-chipped verges. Brick or block paved verges are lifted and an attempt has been made to reinstate the pavers in their original positions. However, all paving will settle in a few months, because compaction of the trench backfill is inadequate.

If they do compact, they compact from the top without water and they do not replace the original 20mm bedding sand which was placed below the pavers.

Most paved verges also have black DPC sheeting under the paving and there has been no attempt to replace the sheeting.

Paver bands and edgings are not reinstated to their original line and level.

These paved areas will all have to be reinstated to their original condition.

The walls on property boundaries belong to the home owner and there has been no attempt to engage with the home owner to agree on the best position for the plastic box.

These boxes must be placed where it suits the home owner with the owner’s permission.

To all home owners and ratepayers, I suggest that you engage with these fibre operators before they dig up your verge and also take photographs before and after completion.

As to how we are going to get them to reinstate our verges and driveways to their original condition, I recommend that nobody signs a fibre contract with any operator until they have reinstated your verge and driveway to your satisfaction.

This is the only way we will get them to act in a socially responsible manner.