The Presidential Hotline, which allows members of the public to lodge an enquiry or complaint directly to the President’s office, was officially opened yesterday. The response from the public was overwhelming with the call centre receiving around 7 261 calls in its first three hours.
Vusi Mona, Deputy Director General in the Presidency told BuaNews about 2 420 calls were being handled per hour, or 40 calls a minute, since the hotline became operational at around 9am. Calls to the toll free hotline number, 17737, take about 15 to 20 minutes to ensure all the information is captured.
“The public response to the hotline is overwhelming,” said Mona, adding that this showed that the hotline was not a public relations exercise, but was meant to improve the way the government works and makes the government more accessible. He said the only challenge thus far had been the large call volumes, but he assured the public that a technical team was working around the clock to ensure operations ran smoothly.
Twenty one specially trained Public Liaison Officers took up their seats at the Union Buildings to handle calls and respond to general public inquiries and complaints over service delivery and questions about government.
They are supported by a network of 43 Public Liaison Officers. Each department and each province has assigned a Public Liaison Officer who will help deal with enquires that can not be solved by the Presidency alone.
Mona said that the next two weeks will be used to identify and solve technical glitches so that when President Jacob Zuma officially launches the service, all the interim problems have been eliminated.
The Presidency has urged members of the public who do not get through to the Presidential Hotline the first time, to be patient, as the glitches will be sorted out.
Free from all major telecoms operators
Good news for consumers is that calls to the Presidential Hotline are free from all of South Africa’s major networks. It was initially reported that the 17737 hotline number will only be free from fixed lines, but all major operators have confirmed that the service is free on their networks.
“We can confirm that all Vodacom customers, including Contract, Top Up and Prepaid are able to make calls to the Presidential Hotline, by dialling 17737, from their cellphones. Customers will not be charged for calls to the Presidential Hotline,” said Vodacom SA MD Shameel Joosub.
Cell C and Neotel have also confirmed that the service is accessible from their networks and is zero rated. MTN did not reply to requests for information, but unofficial feedback suggests that the service is free from their network.
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