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Fiber is coming to a street near you, soon

Fiber is coming to a street near you, soon

Paratus Telecommunications has at long last won the fiber optic cable war against the City of Windhoek when the High Court delivered a judgement on Thursday morning that restrains the City from unlawfully interfering with Paratus’ current or future exercise of its rights.

Judge Petrus Unengu allowed the matter to be considered on Urgency given the vast impact it has on both the immediate and the future economic development of Windhoek.

The essence of the dispute is that the City tried to prevent Paratus exercising its legal rights to establish infrastructure in the form of conduit across designated townships in Windhoek. This conduit acts as channel through which the actual fiber optic cables run.

The install the conduit, Paratus has to dig trenches on City property notably sidewalks and servitudes, both of which belongs to the City. Notification of trenching has to be done in advance, which Paratus said it has done diligently until the City started interfering with its operations, attempting to shut down all further fibre optic infrastructure.

Andrew Hall, Managing Director of Paratus Namibia said this war which has been going on since May 2018. It has been very costly for them, because the City interfered with their operations on numerous times. “This was done under threat of arrest through their City Police officials, attempting to stop all operations that may in future compete with the City’s future plans,” he explained.

According to Hall the results of the High Court ruling speaks to the Rule of Law in Namibia and is a victory for the ICT industry as a whole. “This means that we can continue to follow the relevant regulations and provisions of the Communications Act, including notifications to the City as we have been consistently doing,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile Paratus Group Chief Executive, Barney Harmse was ecstatic with the High Court ruling and emphasised that its was not only a victory for Paratus but for the Judiciary, the government and the ICT Sector in Namibia. “We will now continue with our work, but we will also follow the instructions and rules of the government during this lock-down period, because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Judge Unengu delivered the following order: “The urgent application satisfied the requirements for type of application as envisaged by Rule 73 of the High Court Rules; The City of Windhoek and Municipal Council are interdicted and restrained from unlawfully interfering with or obstructing Paratus’ current or future exercise of its rights, powers, duties and functions as per the Communications Act 8 of 2009, including, but not limited to the rights, powers, duties and functions contained in Part 5 of the Communications Act and including but not limited to the installation of fiber optic cable within Windhoek by Paratus itself or through its duly appointed contractors.”

And finally, the City of Windhoek and the Municipal Council, jointly and severally are ordered to pay the costs of the application, including the costs of one instructing and two instructed counsel.

Caption: From the left, Barney Harmse, Paratus Group Chief Executive, Nadine van Rooi, Executive Legal, and Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall.

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.