Urgent rollout of broadband needed to assist during Covid-19 crisis

Issued by Kobus Botha, MPL
Office of the Premier portfolio committee member

The Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, must prioritize the rollout of broadband services to hospitals and clinics to help mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus, which is running rampant through the Eastern Cape.

The Office of the Premier introduced the broadband project with the aim of connecting government departments, including hospitals and clinics, to high speed ICT infrastructure.

Sadly, more than four years have passed and there is little to show for the project which has accumulated irregular expenditure of R166,4 million. The incapacity among service providers, poor management and litigation battles surrounding the project have delayed the rollout even further.

The province has wasted valuable time and money on a project that could have been of great assistance during this pandemic.

At a time where reliable, up-to-date information from medical facilities relating to the spread of Covid-19 is critical, if the province is to get ahead of the disease, it is unthinkable that facilities have been waiting for four years to be connected.

During the recent sitting of the Office of the Premier Portfolio Committee, assurances were given that hospitals would be prioritized, starting in July.

July is quite frankly, too late. There needs to be an immediate rollout of connectivity to these institutions, even if means putting temporary mobile solutions in place until such time as the necessary fibre infrastructure can be rolled out.

I have written to the Premier demanding him to prioritize the rollout of broadband in the province to assist our government departments to better deal with the demands of the lockdown.

The Premier has missed a golden opportunity as interconnected government departments with state-of-the-art data connectivity would have been much better equipped to respond to the current crisis.

The delays and blockages preventing effective rollout of this project need to be resolved.

Premier, the time has come to get your office in order!