Paratus and City of Windhoek fight over trenching on wayleave – again
Windhoek City Police officers stopped the trenching works in Klein Windhoek by Paratus Telecommunications on 13 February 2020. The Economist found 16 workers on the side of the road, perplexed and not knowing what to do after their foreman was escorted by police officers from the site.
The police officers under command of Superintendent Iyambo also confiscated tools belonging to the Paratus subcontractor, and conduit belonging to Paratus.
Paratus said in a statement that the City of Windhoek has embarked on a strategy to compete in the ICT sector with communications operators to deliver fibre optic infrastructure to each and every household. This would result in placing the municipality in the position of an intermediary provider, thus forcing operators only to deliver services to clients if the infrastructure was leased from the City.
“Furthermore, these stoppages are issued in a bid to buy enough time for the City to apply to the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) for a communications license to seemingly allow it to justify its abusive actions,” accused Paratus.
Paratus further explained the situation stating that the latest interference in trenching works started on 12 February 2020, when City Police, under the instructions from City of Windhoek’s new acting Chief Executive, Pierre van Rensburg issued a stoppage letter while Paratus was completing work in Katutura, laying fibre in an under-served area.
“This was followed up with actions again by City officials this week on 13 February, when they forcibly and without due legal process took possession of the property of Paratus and its subcontractor, even though that specific route that was being trenched was in fact submitted to the City of Windhoek on 9 December 2019, meaning that the City was fully aware of the intention to lay infrastructure as well as the dates on which such civil works would take place,” explained Paratus.
The private Communications company further stated that should the City of Windhoek continue to stop civil works, it would influence close to 100 labourers directly and indirectly [and] cause impact to even more workers that would lose the means to provide for their families.
“City of Windhoek has also abused its power by issuing its City Police officers with instructions to arrest subcontractors and senior executives of the communications operators that are executing their statutory rights,” they concluded.
The Economist afforded the City the opportunity to respond until 16:00 on Friday 14 February. No response came forth.