by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – MTN has lost 125 batteries last week amid a surge in theft and vandalism at cell phone towers across the country.
This is an increase from 74 batteries stolen from its sites the week before.
Recent data shows MTN had 733 batteries stolen from its sites across the country in April.
The worst hit areas are currently Soweto, Tembisa, Vereeniging and Parktown.
“Battery theft and related vandalism is costing MTN hundreds of millions of rand and the impact on the entire industry is exorbitant,” said Ernest Paul, General Manager: MTN Network Operations.
He lamented the high cost to customers and network providers each time a battery is stolen, keeping in mind that as many as 4-16 batteries need to be replaced at each site.
Paul disclosed that to replace batteries at 100 sites, for instance, would cost well over R10 million.
Several more millions would be required to cover the costs of fixing the damage done to the cell phone towers.
“We must avoid the costs of these thefts impacting the consumer, so shutting down these criminals has to be a priority,” the executive said.
The company has meanwhile managed to recover 400 stolen batteries in the wake of a recent television exposé on the extent of battery theft in the country.
“It is time to fight back and this starts with all South Africans playing their part. One simple call can make a world of difference in what has now become an endemic problem which is affecting all South Africans,” Paul concluded.
– CAJ News