Cho­rus moves ca­ble sev­ered by dig­ger

Piako Post - - FRONT PAGE - LAWRENCE GULLERY

The Waikato farmer whose con­trac­tors sev­ered a fi­bre ca­ble, cut­ting the in­ter­net to ‘‘whole towns’’ is upset he’s been made to look the scape­goat.

The Eureka prop­erty owner did not want to be named for fear of ret­ri­bu­tion from those af­fected by the out­age.

But he said he had no idea the ca­ble was ‘‘buried un­der the front sec­tion of my home’’.

‘‘It wasn’t on my prop­erty ti­tle, not on any LIM re­port, there were no warn­ing signs posted and it was ob­vi­ously not on the [Mata­mata-Pi­ako dis­trict] coun­cil’s books ei­ther be­cause they gave me per­mis­sion to dig.’’

The ca­ble, about 400mm600mm un­der­ground, was cut by a dig­ger when ex­ca­va­tion be­gan on a new shed on the prop­erty on May 28.

It af­fected broad­band con­nec­tions for peo­ple in Waitoa, Manawaru, Mor­rinsville, Te Aroha and Mo­tu­maoho. Some mo­bile cell sites were also af­fected.

In par­tic­u­lar, busi­ness in Mor­rinsville had to shut down af­ter the ca­ble was cut about 11.20am.

Cho­rus and Spark com­mented for ear­lier sto­ries, re­in­forc­ing the mes­sage for peo­ple to check the web­site be­foreudig.co.nz.

‘‘It an­noys me that the blame has been laid with my con­trac­tors be­cause they’ve cut the ca­ble. It’s all very well for Spark and Cho­rus to say check be­fore you dig but as far as I can see, no one knew the ca­ble was there.’’

Busi­ness and com­mu­nity lead­ers in Mor­rinsville com­plained to Cho­rus about not hav­ing a backup sys­tem when the in­ter­net went down.

‘‘I to­tally un­der­stand where they’re com­ing from and the prob­lem it’s caused. But I have to ask, why is there a ca­ble, which I be­lieve is of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance, un­der the front yard of my prop­erty?

‘‘It’s not just sup­ply­ing some­one down the road with a con­nec­tion, it’s sup­ply­ing whole towns.’’

He said Cho­rus staff had come on to his prop­erty to fix the prob­lem. Holes had been dug but left open with no safety fence.

He was also un­sure who would have to pay for the re­pairs or for the ca­ble, if it had to be moved.

‘‘I also don’t know what this means for my prop­erty. I can’t do any­thing with the front yard, like put in a gar­den or grow trees, be­cause the ca­ble’s there.’’

He thought there should be more in­for­ma­tion shared on the lo­ca­tion of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ca­bles be­tween Cho­rus and coun­cils.

In a state­ment, Cho­rus con­firmed the ca­ble was laid in the 1980s when the land was a farm, not res­i­den­tial. The ca­ble was pro­tected un­der the Tele­com- mu­ni­ca­tions Act, with spe­cific ease­ment re­quired.

Cho­rus said it would not ap­pear on prop­erty records but would on the be­forey­oudig web­site.

‘‘This is a free ser­vice that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the lo­ca­tion of un­der­ground util­i­ties.’’

Cho­rus said the per­son who de­vel­oped the land in 2005 should had made sure the ca­ble was listed on prop­erty records, be­cause the land use changed from ru­ral to res­i­den­tial.

Cho­rus said legally the ca­ble was al­lowed to re­main but agreed the prop­erty owner had been put ‘‘in an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion’’.

‘‘We have reached an agree­ment with the prop­erty owner, al­though the ca­ble will re­main lo­cated on their prop­erty, it will be re­lo­cated to a more suit­able po­si­tion. The cus­tomer is happy with this out­come.’’

A fur­ther out­age will be made while the work was com­pleted on June 11.

Cho­rus said in emer­gen­cies it could ac­cess prop­er­ties with­out first ask­ing landown­ers. But it would ex­pect all tech­ni­cians to make rea­son­able at­tempts to no­tify prop­erty own­ers.

‘‘It is dis­ap­point­ing to hear that the work site was not left in a safe man­ner. Health and safety is some­thing we take very se­ri­ously and we will be tak­ing the mat­ter up with our ser­vice com­pany con­tracted to do the work.’’ no

From ma­jor build­ing projects to smaller ex­ca­va­tions closer to homes, Cho­rus is urg­ing all peo­ple to visit the web­site be­foreudig.co.nz be­fore work be­gins, to de­tect any util­i­ties which may be un­der­ground (file photo).

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