New plans to eradicate copper theft

JOBURG - The Joburg Roads Agency has implemented a new strategy to tackle the scourge of copper theft that targets municipal infrastructure.

This is in response to the costly damage caused to traffic lights by thieves digging up and cutting down the poles in order to access the underground cables.

However, it comes at a cost to ratepayers.

In a bid to curb incidents in Wemmer Pan, one of the worst affected areas, the roads agency resorted to installing two CCTV cameras around two intersections where traffic lights were hard hit by copper theft.

The roads agency said it planned to install CCTV cameras in other problematic areas, depending on budget availability.

As an additional precaution, sensors would be fitted inside each signal pole which would send a SMS to a private security company if there was any tampering with the pole.

This included cutting, digging or misalignment of poles.

According to the roads agency’s spokesperson, Bertha Peters-Scheepers, over the past three years copper theft and vandalism had spiked, forcing the roads agency to claim more than R10 million on average per year from insurance.

In the 2013/14 financial year, the road agency experienced 250 incidents of theft and vandalism.

“Despite our efforts to provide quality roads that are accessible, safe and livable for the Johannesburg community, the rampant theft, vandalism and sabotage of road signage, guard rails, traffic lights and other road furniture is a drain on our budget.”

Peters-Scheepers said the road agency’s decision to use a less valuable form of core cable had limited success. The roads agency established an Infrastructure Protection Unit to ensure a more effective response to vandalism and theft through closer institutional relationships with the police and other security organisations.

The agency further planned to develop a task team to address the problem across the city.

However, the roads agency continued to urge the public to report all acts of vandalism and theft to the City of Joburg’s call centre on 0860 562 874 or the police.

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