June 17, 2015

How Telecom Companies Are Counting Losses in Mast ‘Terrorism?’

Some of the affected telecom masts located on Hoima  hill
Some of the affected telecom masts located on Hoima hill

Vandalism of telecom masts across the country and siphoning of fuel from the mast generators, stealing of copper wires, theft of batteries and killing of guards from sites, have become one of the daily practice that has caused panic among the telecom companies in Uganda, Red Pepper can exclusively reveal.

Yasin Ssekamatte Nsereko, a security expert and Managing Director, SPARTASEC Limited, one of the companies that are sub contracted to man security at some of these masts under EATONTOWERS, says that, most of these telecom mast terrorists have increased due to the existence of the light laws in Parliament.

“We normally get these people and take them to Police only that, they are released by Courts so fast before they have learnt any serious lesson something that has made them make it a routine practice. Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), should enact tough laws that can get some of these culprits accountable for their heinous acts accordingly,” Yasin said.

Security Expert and Director SPARTASEC Limited-Yasin  Ssekamate Nsereko (Photo by Stuart Yiga)..
Security Expert and Director SPARTASEC Limited-Yasin Ssekamate Nsereko (Photo by Stuart Yiga)..

Research shows that, most of the items which are vandalized from these telecom masts are sold to heavy truck and taxi drivers’  especially in Mubende, while the batteries, despite the fact that they  are customized, tycoons who deal in Solar panel business, especially those operating their businesses in Katwe-Kibuye, Kisekka market, Energy Centre building, Kiyembe and in Kisenyi , among others, have always boosted the theft by offering good money to the culprits whenever they deliver them the stolen items.

Basing on this information, the Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura recently instructed the Director of Criminal Intelligence and Investigations (CIID), Grace Akullo, who is now working closely with the General Duties desk headed by Assistant Commissioner, Boniface Walimbwa to jointly mount an operation so as to tame the telecom vandalism terrorists.

SPARTASEC’s chief, Yasin Ssekamatte adds that, besides training more skilled guards, they have now embarked on installing motional detectors, spy cameras and unique sophisticated hard padlocks’ on their premises, among other measures to limit of the problem which seem to have been sky-rocketing day and night.

HOW CULPRITS GAIN ACCESS TO THE MASTS

Ssekamatte explains that, most of the times, these culprits are armed and highly technical to hijack the batteries from the high Voltage cabins, and always pursue their missions after a thorough survey to confirm whether the guards available at the mast are armed or not.

They later use their weapons (guns/ iron bars/ chloroform) to strangle the guards they find at the sites before they start vandalizing the mast.

One of the netted suspects demonstrating how they have  been sneaking into the masts and vandalise them
One of the netted suspects demonstrating how they have been sneaking into the masts and vandalise them

With these numerous attacks, currently, many private guards fear to operate at these masts in fear of their lives since the culprits normally move at night.

Surprisingly, the culprits do not fear to be arrested by police since when they are netted, they can easily bribe them and set them free, or reach in Court and ask for their constitutional right of being granted a bond.

Meanwhile, after incurring all these losses, the telecom companies suffer a very huge loss on top of the much revenue that government collect from them and in revenge, they end up over charging the lay person through using their services.

This is the reason, government has to intervene and aided in the fight against the telecom mast vandalism so as to secure the businesses of these telecom companies.

Investigations indicate that, more than 400 people were arrested in three years, in connection to telecom mast vandalism crimes but very few of them have been convicted across the country.

Currently in Uganda, all the telecom masts are managed by companies like; Eaton Towers and American Towers, respectively and its these companies that sub-contracts other security companies like SPARTASEC Limited, to provide security to these masts.

 

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