Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 24 January 2013
Source: Olivia Asiedu-Ntow --GMA
Vodafone Ghana has been hit by the largest theft of copper cable in the Madina area resulting in a loss of voice and internet services for consumers, businesses and the wider community throughout Adenta. The estimated cost to the business to repair the 1km of cable that lay between Adenta trotro station and SSNIT flats junction is GHC 200,000; whilst the network outage will also take approximately three weeks to repair.
The impact of cable theft is devastating to the many customers in the area affected. Since August 2012, over 15,500 Fixed Broadband customers have been left without internet service as a result of 186 cable theft incidents all over the country. Vodafone experienced the highest number of cable thefts in a single month in December when it reported 47 cable thefts in the areas of Korle Bu, Madina, Accra High Street, Cantonments, Kasoa, East Legon and Tema. This left thousands of customers and businesses including government agencies, banks and schools without voice or internet service for days and sometimes weeks.
Last year, Vodafone Ghana lost GHC 5m replacing stolen cables in order to restore service to the thousands of customers affected. This figure does not take into account the many man hours spent repairing the damage – resources that could be used to improve customer experience on the network – and the revenue lost to businesses during when voice and internet services are unavailable. The business has reported that 25% of fixed broadband faults reported are as a result of cable theft.
Vodafone Ghana is working with a range of stakeholders including the security agencies, to initiate a campaign to stamp out cable theft. Nana Yaa Ofori Atta, Head of External Affairs said: ‘We have intensified our campaign to catch those responsible for cable theft, who cause disruption not just to our customers, but to the local community. It is unacceptable that nearly 25% of our fixed broadband faults reported are as a result of the theft of our cables. We are working with the Police at the highest level to make sure that we have the right resources to fight this. We believe this is a form of organised crime and we will leave no stone unturned to bring the culprits to justice.’
Nana Yaa further commented on the role of community members in helping the business curb this crime. ‘The most important people in this battle are members of the community. A lot of these incidents occur in broad daylight or at very odd hours in the night and we need anyone who sees anything they feel is suspicious to call the Police on 18555 or call 155 on their Vodafone line to speak to a member of our security department 24/7. We need members of the public to be vigilant because the impact of the theft is indiscriminate, it could affect your local Police station or Hospital. We’ve had great co-operation from members of the public in the past and we need that to continue if we are going to win this fight’.
In the last quarter of 2012, four members of the public were rewarded for providing information which led to the arrest and prosecution of cable thieves in the Tema and Mile 7 area.