Vandalism costing operators millions: Potraz

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THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has raised a red flag over the continued vandalism and theft of newly-commissioned base stations in Matabeleland South Province, in a development that has seen operators losing millions of dollars as a result.

Speaking after rounding off a week-long consumer awareness campaign in the province yesterday, Potraz head of consumer affairs and publicity George Manyaya expressed concern over the sad development.

“Operators have lost millions due to vandalism and theft of Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment, especially on base stations. Solar panels, batteries are being stolen.

“This is affecting the economy. We were in Kezi, Zesa cables were stolen so it has affected Internet connectivity. Maphisa is down as I speak,” Manyaya said.

Potraz is holding roadshows to educate consumers on their rights and obligations, as well as on the economic and social impacts of vandalism of ICT equipment.

In the province, Potraz visited Shangani, Mbembesi, Maphisa, Natisa, Malalume, Dombodema, Madlambuzi, Ndolwane, Ingwisi, Mphoeng, Brunapeg and Plumtree town.

“There are various areas in the province where various cases of vandalism have been reported and we are saying no to that. ICT is the backbone of the economy, if ICT sneezes, the whole country catches the cold,” Manyaya added.

He, however, revealed that incessant power cuts were also adding to the connectivity woes in the province.

“In some places we visited, we realised that some operators are failing to service their base stations because of the fuel crisis. Some base stations rely on power, so at times when Zesa (Zimbabwe Holdings) goes down, the base stations also go down affecting operations. However, on a positive note, we have noticed that most operators have resorted to solar power,” he added.

Manyaya, however, said Potraz was impressed that besides the vandalism and power cuts problem, the communities in the areas were immensely benefiting from the infrastructure, with regards to connectivity.

The road shows are being held under the theme Postal and Telecommunications Consumers — Know Your Rights.

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