BTC Cable Theft Denies Batswana Service

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Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) is experiencing a surge in copper cable theft, both underground and overhead, which has resulted in service disruptions and loss in millions of pula in business.

The telecom giant says cable theft is high in Kgatleng and Maun areas. BTC is therefore pleading with the public to help stem and arrest the problem and damage to its infrastructure, which is denying service to customers. 

“In the current financial year, we have been experiencing a lot of copper cable cuts and theft ­­-both underground and overhead cables - which are being stolen and damaged at an alarming rate,” BTC corporate communications and public relations manager, Golekanye Molapisi said.

“The incidents, which are countrywide, but mainly prevalent in the Kgatleng and Maun areas, inhibit our ability to provide quality communications services to customers.”

The damage and theft of BTC copper cables has cost the company millions of pula both in replacement costs and revenue lost during service interruptions.

“When copper cables are cut and stolen the end result is service disruption meaning customers do not have access to communication, which could put lives at risk. For example if there is an incident customers cannot call an ambulance, phone the police or any other emergency service for assistance thereby endangering lives,” Molapisi added.

Further, damage to BTC infrastructure results in Internet service outage, which in turn affects customers’ ability to transact either online or through the ATM hence denying them the opportunity to buy or pay for services. In essence copper cable theft negatively impacts businesses and their ability to provide service to customers.

Recently, when BTC infrastructure at airport junction mall was damaged, there was a total blackout of services in the entire mall including at Sebele Centre negatively impacting businesses.

Molapisi attributed the spike in copper cable theft to the rise of the price of the commodity and demand of copper in world markets.

Exacerbating the scourge, he said could be the mushrooming of illegal scrap metal dealers who buy and sell stolen copper.

Maun Police Station commander Motlhaba Ramaabya admitted that they have recorded cable theft related crimes within their region. He noted that his team is working tirelessly to curb cable theft.

BTC has also engaged private security companies and is in constant liaison with different stakeholders including Botswana Police to help curb or stem copper cable theft.

The organisation also carries out stakeholder engagements and conducts awareness campaigns to sensitise the nation and key stakeholders including scrap metal dealers to desist from buying stolen copper cables.

According to Section 54 (Miscellaneous Offences) under the Telecommunications Act, any person who steals any telecommunication equipment;  willfully and unlawfully damages or destroys any telecommunication equipment, or does any act with an intent to, or knowing that it is likely that such act will, impair the usefulness or efficiency or prevent or impede the working of, any such equipment, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine of not less than P50, 000, but not more than P1,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years but not more than 15 years.

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