Telecom Namibia seeks the introduction of heavy penalties for Cable Thieves

Telecoms

Telecom Namibia has spent over N$6 million for the replacement of copper cables plundered by thieves this year alone. And to make matters worse, the problem seems to be growing out of proportion.

Managing Director of Telecom, Frans Ndoroma, last week called a press conference where he pleaded with the public to report anyone engaging in such disruptive activities. Two weeks ago, five places were vandalised and copper wires stolen. Operational expenditure to restore services and estimated outbound revenue loss stood at N$700,000.

"We are deeply worried by the deliberate and determined cycle of theft, vandalism and sabotage is creating an environment of a rapidly deteriorating service quality," said Ndoroma.

The company has also proposed an amendment to Section 73 of the Information Communication Bill. "Telecom Namibia wants to see that a future Information Communication Act declaring the receipt/purchase of recovered copper from stolen cables a crime and introduces heavy penalties for the offenders," he said.

According to Ndoroma, the copper wire theft does not only severely affect the delivery of sustainable information and communications technology services to customers but also damages other businesses. Telecom says it will offer N$20,000 to anyone who would leak information leading to the persecution of the perpetrators.

Since January this year, thieves have stolen cables at 21 different places (towns) with the recent incidences reported two weeks ago in Windhoek. "In many high-theft areas, copper cables are repeatedly stolen, sometimes within days and sometimes hours, after replacements or repairs," said Ndoroma.

In an effort to curb the problem, Telecom is rolling out wireless systems although the exercise is expensive. Ndoroma says, "Whoever is doing this knows where the cables are laid and how the cables run. We do not suspect it is theft only. It is more premeditated sabotage of telecommunication services."

He also referred to the need for involving the scrap metal industry, which is said to be creating a market for the thieves. "We have to involve the scrap metal industry so that they stop buying stolen materials and call police when suspicious," said Ndoroma.