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Robber Barons

November 14, 2005

I wrote earlier about Telkom’s recent hikes in broadband costs, and what an evil, despicable and disgusting company they are. Telkom, monolithic, kleptocratic, parastatal, is so terrible they make South Afica’s other companies pale in comparison.

And let’s face it, South Africa is a country full with terrible companies. Let’s see: we have Eskom, cutting people’s power, hiking rates, leaving Cape Town in the dark due to dodgy nuclear power stations and wasting a fortune on trying to get Pebble Bed nuclear reactors built. Then we have the Post Office, which will charge you a fortune to send anything overseas, and then lose your parcel.

MTN and Vodacom, both of which will rip you off on cellular charges, disconnect your phone and then be uncontactable as their call centre line repeats that terrible 21-st century mantra: “Your call is important to us….”.

Then there’s Metrorail and Spoornet, which used be South African Railways before semi-privatisation. Train used to be quite good and frequent – now you get a sense that they are trying to run the companies into the ground so they can be sold off to cronies of government ministers dirt cheap. The service is unbelievably bad – it once took me four hours to travel from Kalk Bay to Cape Town on the train, a distance of 30km, and last week commuters in Johannesburg torched trains in sheer frustration at continued bad service. People lose their jobs because of trains that are never on time.

And then there’s the government massively underspending its already meagre housing allowance, and responding to the housing crisis by bulldozing shacks.
But Telkom takes the cake: as this article points out, if you want to download 100 gigabytes of data from the internet, it is cheaper and quicker to fly to Hong Kong and do it at an internet cafe there, where it will take 13 minutes. The same service from Telkom will cost you R9 918,28 (£844) and take 9 and a half days.

Time to get it sorted.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 20, 2005 4:27 pm

    Jei, die man het ‘n tong.Sav

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