Vandalism costs TelOne

 Vandalism costs TelOne
Published: 23 December 2018
DIVERSIFIED telecommunications firm, TelOne, has lost over US$3 million in the 10 months to October this year due to vandalism of network infrastructure.

Of the US$3 million, US$2, 2 million was in lost revenue as customers could not use TelOne's services while US$913 000 went towards repairing the network.

TelOne managing director Mrs Chipo Mtasa, said this in Mazowe last week while addressing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on ICT after their tour of the Mazowe Earth Satellite Station.

"The scourge of vandalism has led to the following challenges for TelOne; monthly revenue loss . . . (and) loss of customer confidence in TelOne's service leading to a damage of the company's reputation," said Mrs Mtasa.

"The company's reputation index has deteriorated from 54, 4 percent in Q1 (first quarter) 2018 to 51 percent in Q3 2018 (and) incurred costs of more than US$913 000 for repair of damaged network through labour costs and cost of replacing the stolen cables.

"More than 30 000 customers have been affected by the service disruptions thereby impacting revenue generation. TelOne lost most of its revenue in May (US$399,927); June (US$446,316); July (US$207,130) August (US$334,116); and September (US$286,428).

In terms of replacing the vandalised network, TelOne equally paid more in May (US$155,953); June (US$156,050); July (US$74,223); August (US$114,366) and September (US$117,295).

Network vandalism has been prevalence in Harare (50 percent) and Bulawayo (12 percent).

TelOne has since intensified night patrols in Harare and Bulawayo with guards being deployed in areas that have been the worst affected such as Hatfield, Waterfalls, Highlands, Borrowdale, Glenview, Kambuzuma and Southerton.

The guards cost TelOne US$550 000 this year alone.

In the 10 months to October 31, about 122 network vandals have been arrested during night patrols.

Mrs Mtasa said there has been a 270 percent rise in the incidences of network vandalism across the country, with 393 cases recorded this year compared to 106 cases last year.

Rising global prices of copper, which have shot up to US$6 200 per tonne recently, appears to be fuelling the surge in illicit copper dealings across the country.

Mrs Mtasa said investigations and previous arrests have pointed to "the fact that most of the stolen copper is smuggled out of the country through the country's border posts".

"The country is losing to this scourge as copper has to be imported for replacement of stolen cables thus costing the economy in substantial foreign currency," said Mrs Mtasa.

On November 14, three incidents were recorded affecting 1 210 customers.

TelOne is now imploring the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on ICT to lobby the rest of the parliamentarians to align the Criminal Law Amendment Act, with the Copper Act.

While the Criminal Law Amendment Act prescribes a mandatory 10 year jail sentence for network vandalism, the Copper Act provides a fine or imprisonment as the court may decide for persons in possession of copper without a copper trading license.

Mrs Mtasa said the Copper Act is not deterrent enough as it provides for lesser penalties for persons found in possession of copper without trading licences.

She also called for tighter border controls to preclude exportation of copper.
- zimpapers


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