Mobile Network Operators (MNO)s including NetOne have swiftly moved to beef up security at their base stations dotted around the country to ensure uninterrupted service to its customers amid rising cases of theft, vandalism, robberies and assault of security personnel manning the sites.
This catastrophe has forced a number of Mobile Network Operators to channel millions of dollars on replacing stolen batteries as well as ramping up security at these sites.
Speaking to this publication, NetOne’s head of Public Relations, Doctor Elderette Shereni said they have since firmed security to make sure customers’ service is not interrupted.
“Tower vandalism is an issue affecting not only operators but customers whose service may be cut off completely in some areas,” said Dr Shereni.
Dr Shereni added that cases of theft at base stations were worrisome as one incident can result in network not being available in that area for some time.
“Theft cases are worrisome in that if a battery is stolen, it might take time to have it replaced, hence that particular area will be out of network for some time. In most cases there are no back up measures. In most cases, when sites are broken into, usually the degree of vandalism entails that there will be much repair time and expenses required.”
However, MNOs are not folding their hands and watch while thieves destroy their infrastructure. NetOne has since teamed up with police and local communities to bring criminals to book with a number of criminals having been apprehended in Murehwa, Bindura, Marondera and Kwekwe.
In the past, perpetrators would be punished through community service, but a new policy measure has imposed a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years for vandalism of telecommunication equipment.