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112 project resurrected
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:00
Written by Farzana Rasool
There is still no timeframe for when South Africa will have a single national emergency number; however, the 112 project is back on the cards.
Acting deputy director-general of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development at the Department of Communications (DOC) Themba Phiri says the 112 call centre is still a project of the DOC, but there is no clear timeframe for when the number will be implemented. “We are going back to the public with this matter. We want to get comment.”
This is after the DOC in October said the project was cancelled by former director-general (DG) Mamodupi Mohlala. At the time, it added that current DG Rosey Sekese wanted to revive the project as a matter of urgency.
In an interview with ITWeb, Phiri said the project is going ahead. He explained that the department has the funding, but the technology has advanced and now needs to be incorporated into the call centre. Among other things, he mentioned that the call centre should be able to handle data voice services.
The acting DDG also said there are plans to link the 112 centre with the presidential hotline.
The presidency hotline, which can be reached on 17737, went live in September 2009, and deals with complaints related to employment, housing, law, citizenship, potable water, social benefits, corruption, electricity, education, roads and health.
The Democratic Alliance previously said the presidential hotline has been a waste of government funds and described it as “shambolic”.
The DOC didn’t spend R711.5 million last year and of this amount R117 million was not spent, because the 112 emergency call centre project was terminated. The 112 emergency pilot call centre reportedly cost R80 million, and was stuck in pilot mode for more than four years.
Parliamentary portfolio committee members raised concerns about the cancellation of the project, which also meant the loss of a number of jobs.
Currently, the recognised public emergency numbers in SA are 10111, 10177 and 112 for mobile phones. Emergency Medical Services had called for the implementation of a centralised emergency number (112), because responses from the 10111 centres are delayed and not always reliable.
In the meantime, the call centre response has been acknowledged as being so poor that the ministry of police took to handing out cellphone numbers of police officials last year. Officers were asked by national police commissioner Bheki Cele to give out their cellphone numbers, and the department is in the process of printing out a national directory so all citizens will have access to the numbers of generals and other officials.
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