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Scrap-metal looters strike again

Published:Friday | January 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Excavation done to remove wire from conduit underground.

SCRAP-METAL thieves have struck another painful blow to a local entity.

This time it is the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) which has suffered at the hands of persons stealing metal.

The thieves broke into the NIC's pumping station in Port Henderson, St Catherine, on Monday causing approximately $12 million damage.

An area of the fence surrounding the pumping station was dismantled by the thieves to gain access to the premises where they removed 70 feet of earth cable leading to two motors housed in the station, and 30 feet of cable leading to a Jamaica Public Service Company supply.

Two motor control centres and a variable speed drive used for efficient energy consumption were destroyed during the robbery.

This disrupted operations at the NIC's installation, which serves the Bernard Lodge Sugar Estate and numerous agricultural customers.

Alternative measures

Yesterday the NIC announced that alternative measures had been put in place to supply irrigation water to the area, but this came at an increased price as the water is being pumped from wells approximately 100 feet deep.

The NIC is the latest in a long list of entities hard hit by persons stealing metal.

Other entities which have suffered at the hands of the scrap metal thieves include the National Water Commission, LIME, Digicel and the Bernard Lodge Sugar Factory.

Last month, Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who has portfolio responsibility for the NIC, highlighted the havoc scrap metal theft was wreaking on the sugar industry.

According to Tufton, the sugar industry was losing millions because of this practice.

He was scheduled to meet with Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Karl Samuda to discuss this issue.

Samuda has repeatedly expressed concern about the impact of scrap metal theft and, last year, amended the Scrap Metal Regulations of 2007 to increase the fines for persons found guilty of breaching the regulations.

Switch gear (panel) that has been vandalised by intruders.

Switch gear (panel) that has been vandalised by the intruder(s).

The point at which stolen wires were disconnected from a Jamaica Public Service pole.