Thieves target Erongo fibre ring network, steal over 30 poles

Telecom Namibia reports that thieves have struck again, targeting the Erongo fibre ring network that transport live traffic from Windhoek to the coastal towns and vice versa, as well as to its international partners.

The company said criminals used a chainsaw to cut down some 32 poles from the Telecom Namibia overhead fibre route along the Arandis and Karibib B2 route. Each pole had fresh saw marks on the bottom.

Poles were cut and stolen at the following distance marker boards of kilometres 40, 30, 20, 10 towards Usakos from Arandis, as well as 10 and 20 kilometres from outside Usakos towards Karibib. No internet or voice services were impacted in this latest incident.

A police report has been filed and Telecom Namibia requests anyone with information about this incident to contact the Police at either Usakos or Karibib. 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.

This is the second time in five months that poles are from this strategic infrastructure in the same area, which remains a major source of concern as the attacks can cause major communication service outages. Apart from carrying domestic traffic, the route is also used to transmit internet data to neighbouring countries and internationally.

The Erongo fibre optic backbone route links Swakopmund, Henties Bay, Uis, Omatjete, Khorixas, Kamanjab, Outjo, Omaruru, Karibib, Arandis, Usakos and Walvis Bay.

The company said the theft was symptomatic of a growing problem – people stealing and selling copper wires, including poles for whatever purposes, from the Telecom Namibia network.

In a statement, Telecom Namibia called on the Police at Karibib and Usakos to assist in protecting these national assets from further theft and vandalism.

It urged the public to report suspicious activity around telecommunication poles, cables or manholes to prevent theft and loss of service as well as serious injury. Anyone seen working on Telecom poles or wires not wearing a company uniform or driving a Telecom vehicle should raise suspicion.

The company also called on political, community and traditional leaders in the affected areas to help with the sensitisation of the public about the importance of telecommunication as a catalyst for social and economic development of the country; and on lawmakers to assist in the fight against vandalism and theft from national strategic assets like telecommunication networks by developing laws to help curb these criminal activities with its adverse effects on public safety. It noted that the courts should not to release these criminals with a slap on the wrist, but should start enforcing the maximum prescribed penalties.

Telecom Namibia said it was considering measures to minimise the chances of incidents such as these happening again in the Usakos and Karibib areas. 

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