Theft of equipment: Chamber of Telecommunications promises handsome reward for whistle blowers

Kumasi, May 9, GNA – The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has promised a handsome reward for members of the public who will provide information leading to the arrest of people involved in the theft of telecommunication equipment at cell sites.

Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber, who announced this in Kumasi, said such whistle blowers would receive additional reward if culprits were successfully prosecuted.

He said the problem, if not holistically dealt with, would not only affect quality of service but also have serious implications on national security, businesses as well as revenue generation by the Government.

Dr Ashigbey was addressing a press conference on the increasing theft of telecommunication equipment and its impact on the industry, national security, and businesses in Kumasi.

Dr Ashigbey said the telecommunication companies used to experience fibre cuts and theft of fuel and batteries at the cell sites, but were now being confronted with the theft of active and passive equipment, thereby disrupting service delivery.

“The interesting thing is that the theft of some of these equipment might affect more than one cell site depending on the configuration of the particular site,” he said.

The difficulty was that the Chamber had been able to target where the thieves were likely to sell the fuel and batteries, but tracking the equipment was a herculean task, he said.

Mr Ashibgey disclosed that since August 2020, 115 theft cases on active equipment had been recorded, according to data from the three major telecommunication companies.

“The centre of activity, so far, is Kumasi and a lot of this is concentrated around the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology enclave,” he said.

43.5 per cent of all the incidents happened in the Ashanti Region, surpassing the Greater Accra Region, which recorded 15.7 per cent, despite having more cell sites than any other region, he noted.

“From the way these people are working, they are technicians, engineers and people who are knowledgeable in the industry because they do not just vandalize but actually decommission the site.”

Dr Ashigbey mentioned the disruption in the supply chain for some of the equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that some manufacturers were no more producing those that supported 3G as some of the factors driving the menace.

“With all of these things that we are talking about, if we do not deal with the market and the big men who are patronising the equipment then we are fighting a losing battle,” he said.

The Chamber was collaborating with the intelligence agencies, including those at the border posts, to be able to identify those behind the “organised crime,” he added.

“We cannot allow these nation wreckers to continue doing what they are doing because the impact on us is very severe so we are collaborating with all security and intelligence agencies to address the problem.”