UTL speaks out on ISO’s vandalism report

Friday August 23 2019

Action. Frank Kaka Bagyenda, ISO Director

Action. Frank Kaka Bagyenda, ISO Director General. File photo 

By MISAIRI THEMBO KAHUNGU

The management of the Uganda Telecoms Limited (UTL) has agreed with the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) that their assets were vandalised.

However, the telecommunication company said the vandalism occurred before UTL was placed under administration in May 2017, contrary to reports that the mess is currently taking place.

A leaked report by the ISO Director General, Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda, to Information and ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze indicates that UTL assets and sites across the country were being vandalised by some unscrupulous people.

ISO linked the vandalism and theft of copper network cables to likely sabotage of government’s efforts to revive the telecom company. At least 20 UTL sites across the country are reported to have been vandalised and the security agency says the copper cables are being smuggled to feed the black market in Kenya.
UTL’s technical expert Otaremwa Otuhumurize told Daily Monitor early this week that the management is aware of the vandalism and has already devised stringent measures to avert it.

“Vandalism indeed happened not only to us as UTL but to other companies too. Now, we have put mechanisms in place. We have installed a monitoring system whereby any copper wire that is cut, an alarm will alert the police patrol on standby,” Mr Otuhumurize said.

Explanation
“This vandalism happened long ago before UTL went into administration and I can assure you that currently our sites are safe,” he added.

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Col Bagyenda’s report indicates that in spite of some suspects being arrested in some areas, some UTL security managers have been failing the investigations.

“We have observed that whenever suspects are arrested and detained, some UTL security managers are reluctant to follow up the cases to a logical conclusion. Therefore, there is a need for the relevant minister to compel them to act if this vice is to be stopped,” he wrote.

Mr Otuhumurize, however, refuted the allegations saying, the UTL legal team has worked with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute the vandals.
“We have had successful prosecutions and some convicts have been sent to Luzira. Seven of them are in prison now. We are still prosecuting six other suspects,” he stated.

On reaching Kenya, the ISO report says, the cables are sold to some unnamed companies, which re-melt them for other industrial production of copper products.
The vandalised UTL sites are in Kampala metropolitan area, Jinja Town, Masindi, Kabale, and Lira.

In Kampala, ISO says, the UTL sites are at Nsambya, the central business district, Makerere, Wandegeya, Kamwokya, Muyenga, Kyambogo, Mengo, Mbuya and Industrial Area. While in Entebbe, the sites already vandalised are on Airport and State House roads.

In the report, ISO has now launched a wide probe into the vice that threatens the provision of telecommunications and Internet services across the country.

mkthembo@ug.nationmedia.com

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