Ethiopia: Fleeced - Power company and telecoms operator demand stiffer penalties for cable vandalism


Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo) and ethio-telecom, which reported losses of US$4.2 million and US$3.6 million, respectively, due to theft and intentional damages on their infrastructure this year, appealed to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for stringent legal measures on those accused of committing these acts.

The two institutions presented the reported loss they had incurred during the second Joint National Justice Forum held at Haile Resort in Hawassa, 273km from the capital in Southern Regional State, last weekend. They appealed to judges of the Supreme Court as well as Tegene Getaneh, president of the Supreme Court, for a speedy and severe sentencing on those proclaimed guilty of the act of committing these offences.

Out of this loss, 28 million Br was due to cutting and theft of fibre optic cables. Another 53 million Br was spent on maintaining and repairing these damages.

"Since the damage that occurs doesn't affect just one institution, the punishment should also be severe," Abdurahim said. "So far, none of the punishments levied on offenders has been enough of a deterrent."

The state owned ethio-telecom alone lost 10.6 million Br which it would have gained had data traffic not been interrupted due to cuttings of fibre optic cables. In the past two months, 23 telecom lines were damaged and service disruption had occurred 46 times of which 15 were due to intentional cutting of the optic cables.

It used to be that this frequency of theft would happen in a year, which shows the increase in these intentional acts, according to Abdurahim. Both institutions appealed to the prosecutors and relevant officials in the MoJ to charge offenders using the more stringent proclamation.