The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, TÅ¡oinyane Rapapa has decried the loss of M31million over stolen internet and telephone cables over the past six years.
Rapapa told the National Assembly on Tuesday this week that the television and radio cables as well as towers helping to disseminate information have been vandalized and would take years to repair.
He told Parliament that the government embarked on a digital migration initiative which he said had crashed with a thud during the ministry tenure of the current Development Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane in 2015, who was at the time minister in that portfolio.
The motive to engage in the infamous immigration that never saw light of day was encouraged by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2015 which called the global states to shift from the analogue to digital immigration. Subsequently, Lesotho embarked on the process of installing Television and Radio 20 towers that was successfully accomplished.
In 2013, Parliament allocated money in the tune of over M250million to invest in the setting up of towers. Four towers were successively made in Maseru, one in Butha-Bothe, three in Leribe, two in Berea, one in Mafeteng, Mohalesâ€™ Hoek, Qachaâ€™s Nek and Mokhotlong, two in Quthing and three towers in Thaba-Tseka.
â€œThe government further installed 10 telephone towers with the help of the Universal Service Fund (USF) in Likhoele Mafeteng, Thamathu Qachaâ€™s Neck, Senqunyane and Makoetje in Maseru, Malimong in Berea, Ha Mositi and Nqechane in Leribe, Khukhune in Butha-Bothe, Mashai in Thaba-Tseka and Koakoatsi in Mokhotlong,â€ Rapapa said.
â€œThe ministry is on a campaign to launch and test the use of internet. The ministry has so far visited eight districts where set top boxes and aerials were given to the health centers to be able to watch Lesotho Television and listen to radios,â€ he said.
He continued that it was in the same crusade where they took stock of destroyed property which he said would need money in the range of M31.8 million to reinvigorate the destroyed property. Apart from the internet cables stolen, he said the television and radio property summing to the tune of M18. 4 million was also destroyed.
â€œThe ministry realised that there is a great damage of television and radio towers in these districts. We found that property worth M1000 000 was destroyed in Semonkong. Electricity wires were cut which looked like the perpetrators were stealing copper. Solar panels were also stolen. The damage is estimated to half a million of Maloti. The same ruin was done in Ha Ponoane, Roma where electricity cables worth M100 000 were cut.
â€œIn Berea Kueneng, property estimated to the tune of M15million, was destroyed and that ruin caused a big problem to the ministry and residents of that place as they are going to take a long time to get services because the expenses to revamp the damaged assets count to M15 million, and that is not a childâ€™s play.
â€œThe same damage was recognised in Mohaleâ€™s Hoek where electricity cables, batteries of generators projected to M110 000, the generatorsâ€™ batteries were stolen in Leribe, Pela-TÅ¡oeu and Chafo with costs estimated to M2000 and M5000 respectively.
â€œSolar Panels worth M485 000 were also stolen in Quthing, Lebelonyane. Thaba-Tseka Sehong-hong, there was a damage made to a radio tower that was offered by the LHDA. The intention of the tower was to enable people to get access to information. We have found that solar panels were stolen and internet property, and the costs are valued to M18 million,â€ he said.
He added that, â€œDamage made to Vodacom towers is estimated to M12.5 million in the past four years, while that of Econet is valued to M900 000 from January 2021. The overall of destroyed telephone property is estimated to M13.9 million.
â€œI appeal to the nation to stop destroying this property as it will make it difficult for the public to get information through radio and television and also will be problematic to also get essential services such as education, health and Identity documents including birth, death and marriage certificates,â€ he said.