Majority of KZN libraries have no internet access

Most public libraries in KwaZulu-Natal have been without internet access for almost five months, leaving many school pupils in the lurch. 

A staggering 125 of the province's 225 libraries have been without internet access since April, following a contractual dispute with Telkom.

According to DA member of the legislature George Mari, his party has asked for answers from Arts and Culture MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.

Mari said he was "stunned", because it meant that most pupils would be disadvantaged.

Read: KZN library torched during service delivery protests

"It is difficult to comprehend why the MEC and her department have allowed this untenable situation to drag on."

Mari added that the debacle came as matric pupils gear up to write their final exams.

"While we acknowledge that many learners, in particular those living in rural parts of the province, still have no access whatsoever to libraries, those that do should have access to the internet as a vital study tool.

"This is especially relevant in terms of learners who do not have internet access at home and where there is limited access at school."

Mari said he had written to Sithole-Moloi to establish why an alternative service provider had not been brought in.

"I also want to know when internet services will be restored at those libraries which are affected. It is unacceptable that the futures of so many learners is being placed at risk simply due to a lack of competence and service delivery on the part of KZN's ANC-led government."

Read more: Cape Town libraries submit insurance claims of R1m due to vandalism

Department spokesperson Mthobisi Makhathini told News24 that the department was "busy finalising contractual issues".

He said the department would approach provincial treasury to approve an interim arrangement with Telkom.

"The Department will request Telkom to provide a basic internet connection solution that is uncapped, which will allow members of the public to have access to internet for a period of six months."

He said they would start a new bid process to acquire a full public internet solution for the libraries "as a matter of urgency".

"Once the way forward is clarified, the department will publish a media statement apologising to the public and informing them about the departmental initiative to resolve the matter."

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