The growing appetite for copper is now threatening critical infrastructure and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
On Monday, 22 manholes along Oropouche Road in Sangre Grande were stolen.
However, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan believes this is part of a bigger problem.
“It is opposite a school, so apart from losing the infrastructure there, we put the students’ lives at risk because they now have to walk on these pavements without covers and then again, approaching the rainy season, we have garbage and so on going down these underground drains and that will contribute to flooding as well,” Sinanan lamented yesterday.
“And what we recognise of late is that a lot of the cables we have for our water pumps in Port-of-Spain and other areas have been attacked and right now we have to use substitute pumps, so we have been having some serious attacks for scrap iron and so on,” he added.
Sinanan noted that some of these attacks appear to be deliberate, as he recalled the arson attempt on the flooding pump at Bamboo Number Three in Valsayn last week.
He said his ministry will now have to find millions of dollars to replace the stolen and damaged equipment.
“It takes time as well. Take, for instance, the lights at the Curepe Interchange. I don’t know if we will ever be able to get that back-up and running again because those things have to be shipped in and so on and the cost is significant,” Sinanan said.
The LED lights at the interchange were stolen last week.
However, this is not the first-time thieves have stolen equipment from this site. Guardian Media understands a similar incident occurred six months ago.
He said cameras and security fences are now being installed around some of the state infrastructure to deter criminals.
In addition to this, the Minister said he has already reached out to the National Security Minister about the problem and he will also be meeting with Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon to discuss measures that could be implemented to prevent the export of stolen materials.