Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL), the biggest fixed phone operator, says it is paying up to K100 million (about $657 894) ever year to replace its underground cables due to vandalism and the company is offering g up to K50, 000 (US$299. 00) for information leading to the arrests of the vandals.
MTL has set a toll free number – 80007777 – for anyone to report any incidents of vandalism or suspects in possession of MTL copper cables. Alternatively, the public should inform the police.
“Vandalism is not only robbing the country of very important tele infrastructure for socio-economic development, but it also leading to unnecessary waste of the country’s foreign exchange as copper cables have to be imported,” MTL Chief Administration Officer and Company Secretary Hilda Singo said this in a statement dated October 27, 2011.
MTL is working with Malawi Police Service and Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, among others, in an attempt to curb the problem.
The cables are imported and require forex which is now scarce in Malawi.
The statement said on September 1, 2011, the Blantyre Magistrate Court convicted three copper cable dealers of the offence of receiving property suspected to have been stolen.
“This followed the impounding of [2 x 20ft] containers which contained 2.9 tons of MTL burnt copper cables, 2 tons of Escom copper cables and other scrap metals at Manica Container Terminal Depot at Chichiri in Blantyre on April 13, 2010,” reads the statement.
The three were sentenced to 60 months imprisonment with hard labour each.
Bangula magistrate court on February 11 also sentenced suspect David Moffat to two years imprisonment with hard labour for being found with MTL cables.