Cape Town – The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has designated a new number for the Covid-19 national emergency services centre for the duration of the national state of disaster.
Icasa chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng has declared that the service code “139” has been mandated for Covid-19 national emergency services during the national state of disaster.
According to Modimoeng, the national department of health will be required to return the service code to Icasa within nine months after the termination of the national state of disaster.
The Covid-19 national emergency services centre accessed either by call or SMS, through the service code, and callers and senders will incur no charges between service providers.
”There will be no origination or termination charges between electronic communications network service licensees for the mandated Covid-19 short code,” states a notice published in the Government Gazette this week.
In July, Icasa announced that it was seeking urgent written submissions in relation to the service codes 103, 104, 105, 106, 118, and 139 to be harmonised for Covid-19 national emergency services during the national state of disaster.
This was after the short code “111” was designated for Covid-19 national emergency services but was being used, incorrectly according to Icasa, by Vodacom for its customer care centres.
The department later complained that the Covid-19 health communications centres were inundated with calls made by Vodacom customers and Icasa was forced to replace “111” with a new emergency service number.
Icasa denied that it had made an error, insisting the number was not accidentally assigned the service code “111” for Covid-19 national emergency.
At the time, the authority said it would separately address Vodacom’s use of service code “111”.