By ANDREW MUKOMA
IHS Zambia, a telecommunications towers firm, has decried the continued vandalism and theft of its property in Kazungula District, Southern Province.
Dennis Mayeya, the IHS Security Specialist, said that vandalism was costing the company colossal sums of money in terms of claims customers who were using towers.
Recently, criminals stole 350 litres of diesel from a generator after breaking down a physical barrier at one of the tower along the Kazungula Sesheke road.
Mr Mayeya said in Kazungula that vandalism and theft of IHS Zambia property had become common particularly in the area.
“When these people steal from towers, they don’t only steal from one tower but from several towers and you will find that on average we are losing about 4,000 litres on monthly basis.
“If you multiply that, it will give you almost close to a million kwacha lost and so, my message to members of the public is that; these are their towers and they depend on them for their cell phones to communicate. As IHS Zambia, we are involving members of the public in policing these towers knowing that they are the beneficiaries,” he said.
Mr Mayeya said that when towers were tampered with, network providers suffer the penalties and sometimes, the penalties were transferred to IHS Zambia as providers of the facilities.
“The way these towers operate is that they are powered by ZESCO and when the power is off due to load shedding, they either sit on batteries or solar of generator.
“So now, thieves have developed a habit of stealing diesel from these generators as well as batteries because that is back up power. You will find that when they steal these things and ZESCO power is off, the tower goes down and the people that get affected are the end users of mobile phones,” he explained.
Mr Mayeya said despite IHS Zambia networking with the Zambia Police and the community in policing towers, criminals still manage to intrude and steal.
“So, for those that came to steal from here, they were four of them and the opened up the physical barrier and stole 350 litres of diesel,” he said.
He explained that the culprits were intercepted at the check point at the turn off to Katombora Reformatory on their way to Livingstone.
Mr Mayeya said that the four who were Livingston residents were arrested and taken to court and have since been sentenced to 10 years each with hard labour.
“My message to people who are in the habit of intruding and stealing from the towers is that the punishment is severe because they are charged under vandalism which is a serious offence,” Mr Mayeya said.