Public Utilities Minister calls for ‘aggressive’ action on pipe thefts

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales.

Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales says he intends to continue talks with different ministries and the Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association (TTSIDA) to tackle the theft of copper from pipes and telecommunication cables.

Last Friday it was reported that several above-ground Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) pipelines in St James were damaged and water lines left leaking when thieves stole brass fittings.

It was believed the fittings were stolen for sale to scrap-iron dealers.

Responding to reporters at the commissioning of a Lopinot water treatment plant on Tuesday, Gonzales described the thefts as “madness” and said urgent action was needed to prevent further damage to public-utility infrastructure.

Referring to recent calls from the TTSIDA to ban the export of copper, brass and other metals to address these thefts, Gonzales said he was pleased with the association’s support and promised to continue consulting other stakeholders to deal with the issue.

“This madness has to stop, and if they are putting forward a proposal to outlaw the export of this thing, I fully support it, because we need to take some kind of aggressive action to bring an end to this madness that has descended upon us.

“That is my personal view. But I can tell you that the Cabinet, and the senior ministers within the Cabinet, we have collaborated and we are talking with each other with a view to coming up with a policy. And if it requires legislative intervention, this is something we are more than prepared to do,.. this is something that is causing us great anxiety, and we don’t intend to stand by and allow this nonsense to continue in this country.”

Gonzales added that as a key stakeholder the TTSIDA would not be excluded from discussions and said policies and legislation put forward would not harm their industry.