Safaricom and Orange wants to see the speedy implementation of the the Energy and Communications Law 2011 (Amendment) bill which seeks to curb cable vandalism and treat it as an economic crime. Through statements to us, both Safaricom and Telkom Kenya appreciate that the bill has been gazetted.
If the bill is passed, vandalism of telecommunications and power cables in Kenya could attract a fine of Ksh 5 million or a jail term of not less than 10 years. The Energy and Communications Law (Amendment) 2011 bill also changes section two of the Scrap Metal Act by re-introducing licensing for specific scrap-metal dealers. Offenders convicted of vandalism currently only face fines of up to Ksh 100,000 or a maximum of three years in jail.
Both Safaricom and Orange have been complaining of cable vandalism and now it is mostly by construction and utility firms who are carelessly digging everywhere without much regard to what is below ground. Orange quantifies that it has suffered more than 277 cuts in one year with 245 arrests and a conviction rate of 51%. Accidental cuts by road contractors and utility maintenance firms accounts for 64 of those with the firm suffering damages worth Ksh 400 Million due to road construction cuts only.
Of the 277 cuts, 82 (30%) are copper cuts while 195 (70%) are fibre cuts. Part of the statement reads;
Telkom Kenya now calls for an expedited process in Parliament; to realise the speedy implementation of the remaining stages that the bill has to undergo, for it to be enacted into law as soon as possible. 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 KSh 2 billion that Telkom Kenya loses annually, cases of vandalism result in untold suffering to our customers due to service interruption that have grave and adverse effects on their businesses.
“We appreciate and encourage the work being done to fast-track new, stricter laws against cable vandalism. Today, this practice is rampant because the penalties are lax. The proposed regulation will make cable vandalism less convenient and lucrative as a venture,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
With the cable cuts now frequent, infrastructure providers such as Kenya Data Network, AccessKenya, Orange Kenya and Jamii Telecoms are trasferring these additional costs on those who have leased capacity from them, who in turn pass them to the end users hence the high connectivity costs despite the landing of various cables at the coast. KDN is said to be currently undertaking a Ksh 365 million overhaul of its network which has so much been affected by cable cuts.