In light of repeated wilful damage to its fibre-optic cable network, GTT has disclosed that the company would be offering $1 million for information that would lead to the incarceration of the vandals.
This was disclosed by GTT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Nedd at a press conference at the Public Telecommunications Ministry on Wednesday.
“We hope that with the reward; we get more people coming out to say what they
saw that will lead to the conviction of criminal elements and the reward is $1 million,” Nedd stated.
The CEO believes that rogue elements are continually sabotaging the company’s fibre-optic network and noted there were four such instances of sabotage recorded over the last 10 days. The affected communities included Mahdia, Linden, Mabaruma, Bartica, Kwakwani and Ituni where mobile, and Internet and landline telephone services to over 20,000 homes were disrupted.
Nedd explained that the damaged fibre-optic cables were like pieces of broken glass, which, according to him, have no value unlike copper wire, which is often vandalised. He stressed that the vandals “know what they are doing” and added that the damage to the cables was destroying the country’s communications infrastructure and Information Communications Technology (ICT) growth.
“What we have is damage to the nation’s infrastructure by criminal-minded organisations or individuals who don’t want to see our country progress. It is clear that we have enemies and having enemies means that we stand up for something. The recent spate of sabotage will only impair ICT growth and growth of Guyana,” the GTT CEO told the media briefing.
Under the nation’s laws, persons who destroy various categories of communications equipment are liable to a misdemeanour and can face up to two years in jail. Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes told the media gathering that Government intended to deal with the perpetrators, and noted that more CCTV cameras would be placed in key areas across the country to catch the culprits. She noted that tele-medicine, online-based school projects and the general ability of the public to access online services were all hindered.
“Anybody that is callous and uncaring to cut a cable that prevents people in the event of a personal emergency, who can’t even pick up the phone to make call; students that might be preparing now for mock exams – whatever the scenario is, it is totally unacceptable and we will deal with the perpetrators,” the Minister strongly expressed.
She reiterated that Government would go to the full extent of the law to ensure that the practice was stopped and she further appealed for fair competition in the sector.
“We will go the full extent of the law. If this happens to be some warped sense of competition, I want to say that in the spirit of fair competition and trade, all should be allowed to conduct legitimate and responsible business,” she noted
An active investigation into the destruction is ongoing, but the company maintained its silence on individuals or institutions it possibly suspects of the reported “sabotage”. The company explained that it has spent some $50 million over the last 12 months – money which it said could have gone to improve bandwidth services, but stressed that the damage would not slow its progress.
The hotline number to report vandalism is 0908.