While MTN appears to be doing impressive figures in Nigeria — something that was evident in last week’s financial report — the story from its birth country is not so rosy where vandals and battery cellphone tower battery thieves are wreaking havoc.
Cellphone towers belonging to South Africa’s telecommunication giant, MTN, seems to have been courting too much of the kind of attention it would rather do without lately.
Across Soweto, Tembisa, Vereeniging and Parktown in South Africa, MTN’s properties have been hit by vandals and the company is now reporting an unpleasant rise in battery theft, while acknowledging that the thefts are actually a national problem affecting all mobile networks in South Africa.
“Battery theft and related vandalism is costing MTN hundreds of millions of rand and the impact on the entire industry is exorbitant,” says Ernest Paul, General Manager of Network Operations at MTN.
According to Paul, recent data indicates that MTN had 733 batteries stolen from its sites across the country in April alone.
These thefts come at a rather steep cost to both customers and network providers because, according to Paul, each time a battery is stolen, between 4 to 16 batteries will have to be replaced at each site.
Paul said It would cost over ZAR 10 Mn to replace batteries at 100 sites, and the costs of fixing the damage done to the cellphone towers could easily gobble up several more millions.
There are concerns that, if left unchecked, things will get out of hand and entire communities, individual customers and small businesses alike, in affected areas, will struggle to access their mobile services. This is because such pilferage comes with extensive damage to the entire network infrastructure. Thus, shutting down the culprits have become very important.
It must be stated that, in recent times, MTN has stepped up security significantly and has scored important triumphs in the battle through the adoption of a “360-degree” action plan, but recent incidents have become increasingly violent, with cases of abductions, assaults, and even shootings coming to light lately.
MTN wants to fight back by beefing up security even further, rewarding people with useful information on the vandals, and keeping an eye on the buyers of the stolen goods. This, it hopes, will make a world of difference in what has now become an endemic evil perpetrated by people who should be considered enemies of South Africa.
Featured Image Courtesy: sabcnews.com