Telkom ‘working to secure rural phone lines’

2010-10-01 00:00

TELKOM says it is investigating stationing armed guards in areas especially vulnerable to copper theft, and using wireless technology as an alternative to cables, as it admitted it is the victim of “cyclical” theft.

Residents of Bishopstowe, Cramond and Swayimane have complained recently that their telephone lines have not been working for months after they were damaged by copper thieves.

Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty said in many high-theft areas, cable is repeatedly stolen, sometimes within days after replacements or repairs.

“Telkom has observed a trend in the deliberately determined cycle of theft. This is damaging businesses, depriving our customers of a basic service and, in some cases, adversely affecting their security. Of course this is affecting our capacity to deliver services within acceptable time intervals,” he said.

The promise of wireless services is cold comfort for many business people and communities who are currently without their phone lines.

Michiel Bergh, a businessman in Bishopstowe, said he has been promised by a Telkom official that wireless technology is coming in December. “By then I would be bankrupt because my business is suffering without a phone. My cellphone is no good there because of poor reception. If I want to make a call I have to walk half a kilometre to get reception …”

He said there was something sinister about the theft of the lines. “They are always cut at exactly the same spot every time. The poles are sawed and only a small amount of copper is stolen and the rest is just left there.”

Sbusiso Mtshali in Swayimane said for the better part of this year, they have been without phones after thefts.

Mike Mackenzie from Cramond said for the past nine months he has also been without a phone and was still getting a monthly bill.

Chetty said Telkom would investigate the problems and work on solutions.

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