Theft of Telecommunication Assets a Thread to Smart City Initiative

​The Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC) has expressed concern with the spike in the theft and acts of vandalism against the City’s telecommunications infrastructure.

​Manhole covers which seal the City’s fibre optic cables have been left damaged after alleged thieves stole the City’s telecommunications assets.

Heavy Freight trucks also damage manholes by driving over them and some covers are stolen to be sold on the black market.

Westbury, Industria West and JMPD’s Martindale office are the latest areas to be hit by infrastructure theft and vandalism. A CCTV camera was recently damaged at the intersection of Main Reef and Nursery Roads, the suspect of which was caught on camera.

MTC Quality Assurance Officer Latief Fisher has inspected the damage at the various sites and says it’s concerning. “Usually when residents report that digital services are down, MTC technicians often find that this is due to the theft of copper which results in damage to nearby fibre optic cables,” says Fisher.

MTC is a City-owned entity charged with enabling Smart City programmes through the digitalisation of municipal services. While the City of Joburg strives to move towards a digital city, it suffers setbacks due to criminality.

MTC will be dispatching technicians to affected sites to undertake repair work. “Doing repairs on telecommunications infrastructure takes long hours and has financial implications,” says Sipho Phakathi, an MTC Field Technician.

Residents of Johannesburg are digitally savvy and require a technologically advanced service to enable communication. The theft of digital infrastructure and vandalism hinders the MTC’s effectiveness to deliver such services to all communities.

The MTC is appealing to the general public to report acts of vandalism against the City’s infrastructure to law enforcement authorities. “Scrapyard dealers should not promote or buy stolen municipal assets,” Phakathi added.

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