When you hear that cabling has been dug, you usually suspect that there has been a case of theft. For TelOne ,however, some of their fibre optic cables along the Harare-Beitbridge Highway were dug up by villagers. It turns out the cables were not stolen but actually dug up by curious villagers.
TelOne’s Head of Infrastructure Development, Lawrence Nkala, pleaded with villagers in Jaka and Rutenga not to tamper with the cables as that would have grave costs:
As you may be aware, these developments are a way of enhancing our communications after government in 2016 accessed a $98m loan facility from the China Exim Bank.
If it runs through your field, it will not affect anything because it’s buried a metre deep underground. We are pleading with you to support us because it is our vision that internet reaches your home efficiently and effectively, because you may dig up this cable, but it will not benefit you as an individual because you can’t sell it anywhere, but you would have disrupted communication for your own country and having it back comes at a huge cost.
Not the first time
We are almost halfway through 2018, and according to Newsday this is the third incident of this kind in the Rutenga and Jaka area. TelOne says these incidents have cost them between $10 000-$100 000.
Probably the problem stems from the fact that villagers are alarmed when they see land that they think belongs to them is dug up and they are not sure. It is however an inconvenience to TelOne and in the long run the people themselves in these communities will be affected by this.
Are awareness campaigns the answer?
I guess all the companies laying fibre optic cables should do a bit more in terms of educating these communities on the benefits of the cables. I’m not sure if this will be a viable solution since some of these communities do not even have basic internet so it might not be apparent to them how important the infrastructure is.
The fact that this incident occurs a few weeks after TelOne broadband cables worth $10 000 were stolen is a bit ironic. It seems TelOne and their cables are not having the best month, this May.