State-owned telecommunications company TelOne has said in a statement that it has lost revenue amounting to US$292,620 in the first half of 2022 due to network vandalism. This figure represents a 64% increase in the instances of thieves making off with TelOne telecommunications equipment when compared to this time last year.
“In terms of equipment lost, TelOne lost network valued at US$362,460, representing a 15% increase when compared to first half 2021. Year to date, a total of 28 vandals have been arrested compared to 23 arrests that were made in the first six months of 2021. Out of these arrests, 8 of the suspects were sentenced to the mandatory 10-year jail term by the courts.”TelOne
Additionally, the loss of equipment has affected 29,000 TelOne customers which is a 74% surge from the same period last year. The main attraction for vandals are the copper cables that make up a good proportion of the telecommunication company’s infrastructure.
To this effect, TelOne has said that it expects the conviction rate for convicted copper thieves to rise once the Copper Amendment Bill (which seeks a minimum of 30 years imprisonment) passes sometime in the second half of this year.
TelOne also said that it is enacting strategies to combat network vandalism through measures like improving security systems at sites, deepening ties with the Anti-Vandalism Task Force, and increasing awareness campaigns on its internal initiatives like the scheme that rewards members of the public who offer information that leads to the identification and arrest of suspects.
Real change will, however, come when TelOne replaces copper elements with fibre. The telecoms company says that it is implementing the switch nationwide and to support the effort, as well as improve network quality, TelOne said that it intends to roll out 40 LTE base stations this year.