Road contractors face heavy fines over cable cuts

Fibre optic cables.
Fibre optic cables. PHOTO/FILE
Road contractors could soon be slapped with heavy penalties for destroying telecommunication infrastructure during road construction works, if an appeal by local ICT firms is approved.

Telecommunication firms want the government to subject contractors to stiff penalties for tampering with cables, and causing major connectivity downtimes, while undertaking road construction works.

According to Joshua Chepkwony, the chairman of Jamii Telecom Ltd (JTL) – a broadband provider operating under the brand name ‘Faiba’, frequent cable cuts have recently caused major downtimes and revenue losses as operators move to compensate their clients with additional uptime when connections are resumed.

“Road construction especially around Nairobi is destroying telecommunications infrastructure and we end up spending a lot in restoration of the networks,” Chepkwony said.

To cushion themselves from losses, telecommunication firms are forced to pass on the cost of restoration of the networks to customers and if the trend continues connectivity prices could remain high going forward.

ICT secretary Fred Matiang’i recently told the Standard newspaper that his ministry was in talks with the roads, transport and energy ministries to create a framework to resolve the telecommunication cable cuts issue.

“By December, we will have a concrete legislation governing critical infrastructure… we are in consultation with other ministries, professional associations and we are looking at the different options that we have as well as what happens in other jurisdictions,” Matiang’i told the newspaper.

The inter-ministerial talks could see contractors pay a levy for repair of cables damaged during road construction works.

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