Even as they grappled with flooding, Woodland residents experienced a loss of internet and television connectivity on Friday, after thieves stole hundreds of metres of copper cables from TSTT poles.
Within hours, repair crews from TSTT were busy attempting to restore connectivity to the flood-stricken community.
Speaking exclusively with Guardian Media on Friday, TSTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Agard, said the problem of copper theft has increased, particularly in remote areas.
“It is extremely distressing when cables are cut, thereby disconnecting customers from their much-needed telecommunications services. This is not a new phenomenon. It has been with us for years,” she said.
Agard noted that in recent times, the incidents of theft had increased.
“We have observed a recent uptick in instances of sabotage to our network, which is how we view such callous acts. TSTT has response systems and teams in place to treat these occurrences and because of our pro-active planning, we have in fact managed to prevent many of them thereby avoiding a much worse situation,” she said.
“In situations where we catch perpetrators, they are prosecuted,” Agard added.
She explained that TSTT has already secured four convictions in the past month.
“Members of the public need to be reminded that such acts attract severe penalties under the Telecommunications Act. By virtue of Section 69 (1) of the Act, a person who maliciously damages, removes, or destroys facility works or other installation of a public network or a public telecommunications service commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $250,000 and to imprisonment of up to five years,” she warned.
Agard said TSTT’s Police will work very closely with law enforcement agencies to bring matters before the court and try to curb the malicious acts.
“In terms of repairs, we also have teams that we despatch expeditiously to restore services as quickly as possible so that our customers are not inconvenienced for inordinately long periods of time,” she added.
Agard urged members of the public to report instances of cable theft by calling 800-0688.