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
This is contained in a statement issued by the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) and signed by its CEO, Dr. Ing. Kenneth Adem Ashigbey.
According to the statement, the telecoms industry has been experiencing theft of fuel, batteries, copper cables, conductors and other passive infrastructure for some time now.
It said that there have been some interventions put in place to address the problem with some limited success. However, there has been a new phenomenon in addition to the theft of the passive equipment – stealing 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 fibre optic
transmission equipment), Radio Frequency (RF) cables, and electrical cables,” the statement said.
The Chamber noted that the unfortunate acts occasionally cause intermittent network disruptions and customers experience network challenges in the surrounding areas of the affected eight regions including Ashanti, Bono, Central, Eastern, Greater
Accra, North, Volta & Western.
It noted that Ashanti Region alone recorded over 50 theft cases out of the 114 (44%). The
Central Region followed with a total of 19 theft cases representing 16.8%, followed closely by Greater-Accra, which recorded 18 incidents representing 15.9%. The Northern Region recorded two cases in less than 1 week, at Kusagu on May 4, and in Tamale May 9, 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 is next with 270 incidents (19%).
“Over this period, more than 440,000 gallons of diesel, 804 B.T.S batteries, 786 generators batteries, 124 DC-AC Inverters, 102 AVR Transformers, 26 AC Units and 8 Fire Extinguishers are among the item stolen,” it said.
Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey said, “this is completely unacceptable as these impacts directly on the quality of service that customers have and has national security implications for all of us. We cannot allow these nation wreckers to continue having a field day. Therefore, we have collaborated 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”.
He added that, 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.
Dr. Ashigbey said the industry players recognize the impact on its customers and the high cost of replacing this equipment at their cell sites, and “we are more than happy to reward anyone or community members for their vigilance and efforts to catch these persons committing these crimes.”
He noted that, already, three suspected thieves have been arrested in the act of stealing over the past two weeks in Kumasi and Accra, saying that culprits from Atimatim incident have been arraigned before the Kumasi Circuit Court Two and the court has granted them bail with sureties to re-appear before it on June 9, 2022. The other person who was arrested last April 29 at Bortianor in Accra, he is currently on self recognisance bail.
“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. We also implore the general public, especially the communities where the telecommunication cell sites are
located to help protect telecommunication equipment which is a critical national infrastructure industry,” Dr. Ashigbey said.
The Chamber is imploring anyone with information about these incidents to kindly call the police 191 or 18555 or the Mobile Networks on the toll-free numbers 100 or 419 for the generous reward.