Floods-hit provinces disadvantaged from getting subsidised decoders

KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape have been disadvantaged from getting free government-subsidised decoders due to the floods that battered parts of the two provinces in April.

This is according to Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who told a media briefing on Friday that the department could not install the subsidised decoders due to damage caused to many beneficiaries’ homes and the inaccessibility to communities because of poor roads infrastructure.

At least 109 270 houses are still unconnected in these two disadvantaged provinces, but the minister was proud to announce that her department has met its target in other provinces.

“As we indicated to the court, as we went to the Constitutional Court, there’s nothing that we can do further in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape to install beyond what we have until the rebuild has been done,” said Ntshavheni.

“We have put our best effort, but if an area is inaccessible, it is inaccessible. If a house has been demolished, what are we going to install? Until that house is rebuilt, then we can go and install.”

The department is working jointly with the Department of Human Settlements and other infrastructure departments to establish when will the relevant infrastructure be restored so the installation work can continue.

She added: “In this regard, allow me to extend our appreciation to the teams that continue with installations to areas where they must walk [long] distances because of the damaged roads and bridges.

“We are continuing to increase our capacity to install more STBs [set-top boxes] per day to ensure the quickest rate of installations for post-ASO [analogue switch off] registrations in the event of a possible surge of applications after ASO.

“However, since the beginning of April 2022, the project continued to experience a decline in the number of new registrations.”

She said there has been a decline in applications across the country since April, but noted that the households earning less than R3 500 are still welcome to apply for free government decoders.

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