Ghana’s Mobile Industry is offering a very handsome reward to anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of culprits responsible for the recurrent telecommunication equipment thefts at cell sites throughout the country.
Additional amounts would be given to whistle-blowers when the culprit is prosecuted and jailed.
The telecommunication industry has been experiencing theft of fuel, batteries, copper cables, conductors and other passive infrastructure for some time now.
There have been some interventions put in place to address this with some limited success, but there has been a new phenomenon in addition to the theft of passive equipment such as stealing of active equipment which has exacerbated the already bad situation.
Between August 2020 to 9th May 2022, a total number of 115 theft cases of active devices have been recorded.
This is in addition to 1,429 incidents of passive equipment theft.
These active parts of the infrastructure stolen at the cell sites include the base transceiver system, transmission equipment (including both microwave and fiber optic transmission equipment), Radio Frequency (RF) cables, and electrical cables.
The unfortunate acts occasionally cause intermittent network disruptions and customers experience network challenges in the surrounding areas of these affected eight regions including Ashanti, Bono, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, North, Volta, and Western.
The Ashanti region alone recorded over 50 theft cases out of the 114 (44%) followed by the Central Region with a total of 19 theft cases representing 16.8%, and followed closely by Greater Accra, which recorded 18 incidents representing 15.9%.
The Northern Region recorded two cases less than 1 week, at Kusagu on the 4th and Tamale on today the 9th of May 2022.
For the passive equipment theft from 2017 to March 2022, Greater Accra leads with 461 theft incidents (32%) Ashanti Region follows with 375 incidents (26%) and Eastern Region follows with 270 incidents (19%).
Over this period over 440,000 gallons of diesel, 804 B.T.S. batteries, 786 generators batteries, 124 DC-AC Inverters, 102 AVR Transformers, 26 Units and 8 Fire Extinguishers are among the item stolen.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey describes the situation as unacceptable as it impacts directly on the quality of service that customers have and has national security implications for all of us.
He said these nation wreckers cannot be allowed to continue having a field day and is, therefore, collaborating with several units of the CID and the National Signal Bureau, an agency of the National Security to enable quick action to nip it in the bud.
“We would need the support of the general public”. While working closely with authorities and the security apparatuses to bring a stop to these actions, our technical team is also replacing the equipment to restore the affected networks to normal while adopting other measures to ensure we further improve security at these cell sites”, he started.
He bemoaned the impact it has on customers and the high cost of replacing the equipment at the cell sites.
According to him, they are more than happy to reward anyone or community members for their vigilance and efforts to catch these persons committing these crimes.
“We Are by this statement, together with the CID of the Police Service and the NSB serving notice to these criminals, including those buying these equipment, that a lot more of them will be arrested and put behind bars to serve as a deterrent”, he stressed.
He implored the general public, especially the communities where the telecommunication cell sites were located to help protect telecommunication equipment which is a critical national infrastructure industry.
He also implored anyone with information about these incidents to call the police at 191 or 18555 or the Mobile Networks on the toll-free numbers 100 or 419 for the generous reward.