Mobile network operators are spending millions of dollars on replacing stolen batteries and on security following a spate of vandalism at their base stations.
Tower vandalism is a significant issue affecting not only operators but consumers whose service may be cut off completely in some areas. Each theft incident can result in the network in that area being down for days because when batteries are stolen there is no backup and when sites are broken into, the vandalism often means that there is an increase in repair time.
MNOs are not folding their hands and watching the destruction of their assets. NetOne, for instance, has teamed up with police and local communities to bring criminals to book. Criminals have been apprehended in Murehwa, Bindura, Marondera and Kwekwe.
In the past perpetrators would be sentenced to serve community service community services, but now vandalism of telecommunication equipment attracts a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years.
NetOne has firmed up security at its base stations to ensure that customers do not continue to suffer due to vandalism, robberies and assault of security personnel manning the sites