Severe staff shortages, absenteeism, loadshedding and damaged infrastructure have crippled Nelson Mandela Bay’s 10111 emergency call centre, leaving residents unable to get help in their time of crisis.
The failure to answer calls is potentially life-threatening to people in danger from the criminal onslaught. Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay have been thrown to the wolves, with no recourse to help from SAPS.
In response to an oral question during a sitting of the Eastern Cape Legislature last week, MEC Xolile Nqatha revealed that although the centre had 24 incoming 10111 lines, there were at times just two or three members to take the calls, due to high volumes of absenteeism.
Nqatha also revealed the emergency call centre in Nelson Mandela Bay has been severely hampered by the ongoing rolling blackouts, with the telephone systems taking up to 45 minutes after the power was restored to come back online.
I have written to Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor, DA councillor Retief Odendaal, to request that the municipality looks at ways to prevent loadshedding the call centre, as it is an emergency service that plays a critical role in ensuring our residents’ safety.
The MEC also revealed that loadshedding had destroyed the centre’s UPS system in mid-September, taking the Global Emergency Command and Control Centre System offline. The cost to replace the UPS is estimated at R4 million.
This has resulted in all complaints coming in having to be manually captured by hand on 297 forms, with no reference numbers being issued for calls logged.
The centre current employs 71 staff, split over four shifts, so even a full staff complement at the centre would only see an average of 18 staff per shift, of which only ten would be handling calls.
It is, therefore, no surprise that calls are going unanswered!
MEC Nqatha said slow response times to emergency calls were not necessarily the call centre’s fault, but could be attributed to the lack of vehicles at police stations.
He said If stations only have two vehicles on the air for complaints, and both are attending to scenes, the centre cannot dispatch any complaints until such time that the vehicles are done. Nqatha said some stations only have one vehicle to attend to complaints.
The DA is determined to fight for law and order and ensure the safety of all communities.