Internet rollout ‘war zone’

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A “NATION building” infrastructure project has been accused of leaving a trail of destruction in its wake through Kingston.

The rollout of the national broadband network internet by NBN Co has been slammed by councillors at Kingston Council’s latest public council meeting.

It emerged that utilities companies are citing “emergency works order” provisions to avoid the need to inform council about the NBN rollout.

Cr Georgina Oxley said NBN Co contractors have been turned up to do major street works without notifying residents in the weeks beforehand and have left footpaths and nature strips in an “unacceptable” condition.

“The NBN works that are going on, particularly in South Ward, have been nothing short of what I would call a disaster,” Cr Oxley said at the 28 May meeting.

She said NBN contractors were rude to Chelsea residents who questioned street and driveways access suddenly being blocked by work vans and the installation works.

“They were basically told in foul language that can’t be used in this chamber to basically move on,” Cr Oxley said.

“They were told ‘but you’re getting NBN so you should be happy’.”

Residents in Chelsea, Bonbeach and Carrum have contacted council in recent weeks to complain about the state of footpaths after contractors moved on to their next installation job.

“The residents are blaming council for these problems, and probably for once, it’s not our fault,” Cr Oxley said.

She said the federal government and NBN Co should “be held accountable” for any repair works.

“Our residents should not have to suffer through this botched rollout … and should not be footing the bill.”

Cr David Eden said Bonbeach has been described as “a war zone” and people in wheelchairs have complained wheels are getting stuck in uneven footpaths.

“There are a lot of people concerned about the works and the way it’s being rolled out.”

Cr Geoff Gledhill said “obviously, it is not acceptable” and noted a gas supplier had left “similar problems” behind in Mordialloc and Parkdale when installing high-pressure gas pipes.

Council city assets and environment master of management general manager Daniel Freer confirmed there “is a formal protocol” for major utilities companies to meet monthly with council and advise when major works will be done but increasing such companies use “emergency work orders” provisions so council is not notified.

NBN Co representative Tony Brown said the company is working with council “to address issues arising from the deploymnent of the NBN network in the area”,

New fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) technology, delivering speeds of about 100Mbps is being installed in the area, NBN Co said.

“However, whilst building FTTC will give local residents access to top-class broadband the reality is that taking new fibre optic cabling to the front of each premises does require a very significant level of civil works.”

Kingston Council will write to federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to flag its concerns about the NBN rollout.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 6 June 2018

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