Fibre optic installation causes life-threatening situations and millions in costs

The consequences of damage by companies installing fibre optics in Maastricht are creating life-threatening situations in the city.

This is according to research by RTV Maastricht.

In Maastricht, there are 2 companies laying fibre optic cables, KPN and Open Dutch Fiber. The incidents caused by the construction are a long list. According to network operator Enexis, the companies have already caused damage 277 times in Zuid-Limburg by 2023. "Days when we have 6 breakdowns due to digging damage are no longer an exception," he said.

'Dangerous incident'
The biggest incident occurred during work on Becanusstraat, where a gas leak was caused by a subcontractor of the company AVRA Group (main contractor of Open Dutch Fiber). Instead of calling the fire brigade, the workers laying the fibreglass plugged the hole. A few days later, the fire brigade had to go out with Enexis as gas was smelled in the houses and neighbourhood.

Great shock
Neighbours on Becanusstraat expressed their shock: "We had to flee our house," says an elderly couple living on the street in Brusselsepoort, west Maastricht. The residents received flowers from main contractor AVRA Group. "Where people work, mistakes are made, we realise that. But as far as we are concerned, these are no longer accidents, but very seriously culpable situations," an Enexis spokesperson informed about the incident.

Other problems
Enexis also denounces the lack of knowledge of the Dutch language among employees of the fibre-optic companies: "This work is often done by crews that do not speak the Dutch language, which makes communication difficult." In addition, the grid operator sees that the companies are mainly concerned with profit maximisation and not safety. The cause of this is the low profit margin, which makes the need to lay many metres of fibre at a high pace.

Open Dutch Fiber
RTV Maastricht also spoke to the companies laying fibre optics. One of the companies, Open Dutch Fiber, says in a written response: "This subcontractor carries out the work for us in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. So too in Maastricht." Open Dutch Fiber did not respond to follow-up questions from RTV Maastricht. Open Dutch Fiber's subcontractor writes in a response that there are incidents, but incidents such as on the Becanusstraat are only one-offs.

The other party installing fibre-optics in the city, KPN, says: "We work carefully, and KPN stands for working safely. The safety of the people we connect and the people working on our network is extremely important. To that end, we take a lot of precautions to ensure that the rollout of fibre optics goes well and safely."

Gemeente Maastricht's response
Gemeente Maastricht wrote in a response that it is not a party in the laying of fibre optics. However, they do state that most of the damage is caused by 1 party. Which this is, they do not write. According to RTV Maastricht sources, it is Open Dutch Fiber. The Gemeente (Municipality) writes that it has agreed that before the construction period only work will be done to resolve complaints and reports. "To make sure that everything is left tidy before the [summer] holidays."