Telcos want vandalism law fast-tracked

August 10, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Safaricom and Telkom Kenya are calling for fast-tracking of the proposed law against cable vandalism, following the latest incident that affected voice and data services for both operators in parts of Nairobi and Mombasa.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said vandals had caused at least nine fibre cuts, leading to a 36-hour down time in large parts of Eastern Nairobi and Mombasa.

“For the moment the penalties really are not that large. We have been working with the government and all relevant stakeholders on the (proposed) legislation, and thankfully it has arrived at Parliament now for debate. I really do hope Kenyans start to take this issue seriously. It is an act of economic crime,” he said.

In one incident, a Kenya Data Networks (KDN) link was severed by a utility works team at the junction of North Airport and Mombasa Roads near City Cabanas on Tuesday.

KDN is one of Safaricom’s data carrier partners.  Such a fault would have been averted had the water utility’s team been made aware of the existence of KDN cables under the same ground they were digging up.

The proposed law seeks to classify cable vandalism as economic sabotage and impose stiffer penalties on offenders.  The penalties proposed under the Energy and Communications Law (Amendment) Bill 2011, include a fine of Sh5 million and a jail term of no less than 10 years.

Contractors and utility firms will also, for the first time, face new penalties for cable cuts occasioned by their employees if the Bill becomes law.

The City Council or any other local authority is expected to issue way-leaves to any person who intends to carry out any works that involve excavation.

Telkom Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein said; “this will save the sector huge amounts of revenue and funds that would have otherwise been deployed to replace vandalised copper cables and fibre.  In addition to the over Sh2 billion Telkom Kenya loses annually, cases of vandalism result in untold suffering to our customers due to service interruption that has adverse effects on their businesses.”

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