Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Being on our mettle

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The theft of scrap metal, and particularly copper, has become an almost simultaneous practice everywhere. But quite recently it has begun to disfigure our commercial landscape so, that drastic action is urgently required.
This metal thieving has even affected our local churches, with Our Lady Of Sorrows Catholic Church in St Peter being the latest, having had the better part of its copper roofing taken. The criminality has reached such a level, it has seemingly become a form of economic warfare.
LIME managing director Alex McDonald told the media only this past week that lengths of huge cables installed on telephone poles for the conduit of electronic data were being stolen, and that these cables are often as long as a quarter of a mile and in other instances two miles.
The latest such atrocity has resulted in the loss of telephone and Internet service to about 300 households in St Joseph. The dislocation and misery caused by these selfish acts of crime may have to be experienced to be properly understood. It is not only the domestic customers affected, but commercial entities as well, and the company and its workmen.
In a services economy such as ours, which relies on an efficient telecommunications system to assist in the earning of foreign exchange for our national survival, it is easy to wonder if such activity does not border on economic terrorism, even though such notions may not have even entered the minds of these common but organized thieves, attracted by the prospect of filthy lucre.
More daring
Last year too, there was an even more daring theft since the copper cable stolen in that instance was resting some 60 feet above ground level on a roof of the building on which it was to be installed. The weight of that cable was about 360 pounds and it was worth about $36 000, which suggests these thieves are highly organized.
Small wonder then, that Mr McDonald is thinking of fighting fire with fire by offering a bounty for information leading to the conviction of anyone for the theft of LIME’s copper wire.
We support Lime and all those other enterprises, which have suffered as a result of these dastardly acts, in their legitimate efforts to put an end to these thefts. Perhaps we may have to go the route of Jamaica, which imposed a temporary ban on the sale of scrap metal while it revamped its regulations and laws to provide for tighter registration of sellers and purchasers.
Mr Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, one or more of whose companies have suffered badly from theft of copper wire, has called on the authorities to amend the laws and regulations to stem the incidence of this wire stealing. In particular, he argues that sellers taking material to recyclers should have to present their ID and police certificates of character.
Whether or not this idea is accepted, any change in the law must be reflective of the reality that the theft of copper and other metals strikes at the very root of the economy. When a telephone system is raided for its wire, such theft seriously endangers the entire community, and unnecessarily exposes citizens to risks by the interruption of their phone services.
This clear and present danger to the economy cries out for decisive and speedy action by the authorities. The menace must go!

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