Telecom Namibia is offering rewards for information on copper cable theft and vandalism, as incidents of theft and vandalism interrupt services to a ‘worrying degree’.
The company says some of the damages done are found to be unintentional due to lack of knowledge about the existence of the underground cables during excavation and other civil works, but most of it is caused by unscrupulous individuals for commercial gains or purely sabotage.
Over 20 incidents of criminals targeting Telecom Namibia’s underground and aerial cables were recorded this year in places such as Windhoek, Omaruru, Usakos, Karibib, Oshakati, Otjiwarongo and Keetmashoop.
Windhoek was most affected by these criminal activities in areas such as Hakahana, Ombili, Okuryangava, Grysblok and Wanaheda. Except for a few cases where cables were cut and taken away, recent cases in Windhoek point to deliberate acts of vandalism directed at Telecom Namibia’s underground cables, which disrupted telephone and Internet services to hundreds of customers.
In June this year the following incidents were recorded in Windhoek alone:
- In Kitaar Street, Rocky Crest, criminals opened a manhole and cut a cable and left it without being removed or pulled.
- In Pongola Street, Wanaheda, thieves opened four manholes at different points and cut the cables without removing the cables. In three other separate incidents in Wanaheda, criminals broke into manholes and stole slices of cables in Urupapa, Omongwindi and Etetewe streets, still in
- In Onyarayongongwe Street of the Havana settlement, a cable was cut and a piece of that cable was found hidden behind a shack in that area.
- Next to the Wanaheda Exchange in City Street thieves cut and removed a piece of cable from a manhole.
- Thieves looted over 90 kilogrammes of copper wire from the Telecom Namibia network in the Brakwater area on Windhoek/Okahandja main road in June this year. Five telephone poles were first fell to remove the copper wire. A 600mm hand saw and a broken blade were found at the crime scene.
- Thieves recently broke in at TN Mobile tower in the Omaheke Region and removed earth wires from both the TN Mobile tower.
- A fibre optic cable was cut and a piece removed from a manhole between NamWater and Osana Military Base.
- In two separate incidents in July this year, criminals cut down and carried away 15 poles carrying the aerial fibre optic cable which forms part of the Western Fibre Backbone Network. This happened near the village of Omatjete, about 60 km west of Omaruru in the Erongo region. In the process, the fibre cable was also vandalised. Earlier in May this year five telephone poles were cut and removed between Omatjete and the Uis River.
Telecom Nmibia says these clearly show that criminals are causing massive damage to the Telecom Namibia networks through copper theft and sheer vandalism, resulting in downtime for customers and costing the company millions.
The cost of these criminal acts extends far beyond the network damage. Telecom Namibia is faced with repair costs, loss of revenue, security costs, an increase in customer complaints, and network quality concerns.
Customers are also hit hard. The network damage results in service unavailability, an impact on emergency services, and a significant impact on businesses using the affected networks.
With hundreds of kilometers of cable running underground and on poles to provide telecommunication service in Namibia, it is impracticable and impossible for Telecom Namibia to provide security to protect them. We therefore call on all Namibians to exercise patriotism and be a watchdog to safeguard our national telecommunications backbone in their best interest of retaining reliable efficient communication.
In this regard, the public is once again urged to report any suspicious activities or malpractices around the Telecom Namibia infrastructure to the nearest Police Station or the Telecom Namibia Hotline at 0800 301630 or 061 301630, anonymously.
Telecom Namibia offers cash rewards of up to N$20,000 for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for committing crimes of vandalism or theft on the Telecom Namibia network.