Services cut in broadband installation mishaps

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Hamilton homes have suffered power and water outages at the hands of contractors laying cables for the city's ultrafast broadband network.

Transfield Services cable layers accidentally cut the power to Hamilton homes in Massey St, Frankton, on June 24, Hukanui Rd, Chartwell, on November 23 and Te Manatu Drive, Rototuna, on January 8, according to Ultrafast Fibre which has contracted them to build the network over five years.

In the last incident, at 3.44pm, 247 homes were without power for about two hours while WEL Networks worked to restore power.

At least twice in the last year Transfield Services has been responsible for breaking water pipes. The first was in Dinsdale in June and the second was also in Hamilton a month or so later.

Elizabeth Hughes, communication and marketing unit manager at Hamilton City Council, said Transfield Services had 30 people working across the city who had been responsible for "many incidents" although the council could not separate incidents relating to broadband installation from other incidents.

"The damage will be either to water pipes or waste water pipes. If it is damage to a water pipe it is known very quickly (water quickly escapes) whereas damage to a wastewater pipe may take longer to detect (the damage will be more likely to be a blockage caused by the broken pipe). The contractor rings the council immediately if they suspect they have damaged a pipe and the fix is sorted within 24 hours."

Ultrafast Fibre chief executive Maxine Elliott said the company had investigated each one and sincerely apologised to those who were inconvenienced.

Building of the network required drilling in close proximity to existing utilities which were not always fully discoverable. "Unfortunately cable strikes do happen from time to time and we review each incident to understand how and why it happened. Where possible, we will put measures in place to minimise such an occurrence happening again in the future."

Phil Consedine, city transportation manager at Hamilton City Council, said the contractors did their best to avoid causing damage. "We invite any resident, without reservation, to contact our call centre on 838 6699 should there be any problems experienced with water supply or a problem that has not been fixed within 24 hours of the problem being discovered."

Costs for damage are borne by the contractor, but Transfield Services refused to say how much it had cost it as it was commercially sensitive information.

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- Waikato Times

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