| James Kon |
TELEKOM Brunei Berhad (TelBru) yesterday voiced its concern over the rise in cable thefts that has not only incurred cost for the company but more importantly disrupted telephone and Internet services to TelBru customers as well as subscribers of other service providers in the country.
Between May 31, 2014 and February 9 this year, more than 30 cases of cable thefts or attempted thefts have been reported to the Royal Brunei Police Force.
The latest incident took place on February 9 when thieves struck four different areas of Kg Peramu, Kg Sungai Panga, Jalan Kg Wasan and Jalan Junjongan and stole around 1,100 metres of cables and also damaged fibre optic cables in the process. The damaged fibre optic and missing cables disrupted telephone and Internet services to some 2,000 people.
Details of theft cases and the negative impact on the users were highlighted in a press conference yesterday at TelBru Headquarters by Dr Michael Mertsch, Chief Technology Officer of TelBru; Lt Col (Rtd) Zulkiflee bin Dato Paduka Hanafiah, Manager of Security and Health and Safety Manager, Human Resource Division of TelBru; Ideris bin Hj Ali, Senior Manager of Customer Care and Corporate Communications of TelBru; and Inspector Hamdan bin Mantul, Public Relations Officer of the Royal Brunei Police Force.
Dr Mertsch said, “We would like to raise public awareness to help us prevent such incidents.
“There have been more than 30 cases in less than a year. It’s worrying and the number of incidents is growing exponentially.”
Based on statistics, most of the cases last year took place at the water village, however, of late cases of cable thefts are on the rise on land as well.
In describing the latest theft, he claimed the incident seemed well planned and carried out in the darkness of the night.
“They are always looking at our installations and open the manhole to remove the copper cable.”
Although the thieves are smart in removing the cable, he said, “they don’t care about what kind of cable it is and in the process, they damage other infrastructure like fibre optic cables underground that carry hundreds of phone calls or high Internet band wave.”
Dr Mertsch added, “Then we have to replace the cables. I am concerned about the huge amount of work to fix the cables. And this can’t be done in a day or two.
“The incidents also caused disruption of telecommunications services to the public. People cannot use their phones and their Internet. Even the business community may suffer considerable losses.”
The Chief Technology Officer has appealed to the public, especially Neighbourhood Watch groups in each village, to monitor and report to the police of suspicious activities.
Inspector Hamdan bin Mantul, warned that under Section 427 of the Penal Code, those who vandalise properties can be punished with a jail term of five years and two strokes of the cane and under Section 379 of the Penal Code on theft, the punishment is three years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.
To differentiate thieves and personnel on-site, Dr Mertsch said, “The public can look for identification cards on personnel and the official car.”
The public is advised to contact the RBPF’s hotline 993 if they notice suspicious activities.