Legislation coming for thieves who steal ‘critical infrastructure’

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has warned persons who continue to steal or damage “critical infrastructure” leaving entire communities without electricity as well as internet and telephone services, that legislation is coming to address the matter.

The critical infrastructure includes generators, batteries, fuel and copper cables that are frequently stolen or damaged by persons the prime minister described as unscrupulous, and which leaves communities and businesses without internet and telephone services. The repeated theft of solar batteries from street lamps has often plunged roadways into darkness.

Holness addressed the matter in a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, as he updated the nation on the damage caused by Hurricane Beryl and the government’s recovery efforts.

He noted that in the midst of the hurricane, thieves were at work.

Holness told the House that the telecommunications companies have indicated that their systems would have been far more resilient during and after the hurricane as they had taken the precautionary measure to refuel before the country was hit.

“On the day of refuelling or shortly thereafter, they’re seeing their censors saying that the fuel is gone,” the prime minister said. He said given the circumstances, it was important that Jamaicans understand that it was not incompetence or lack of care (on the part of telecom providers).

“It’s sometimes the very people who’re in your community that does it,” he said. He has tasked the Minister of Telecommunications, Daryl Vaz, and National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, to “very quickly bring legislation to Parliament” to address the matter.

“Bring that legislation to Parliament because we cannot have these critical infrastructure being preyed upon…” the prime minister remarked.

He noted that it was a small number of perpetrators “who will make it their business to go and steal fuel from the generators that power the back-up service for the repeaters that give all of us connectivity – online service, telephone, Internet”.

The prime minister said the situation has “gotten worse because they’re stealing the batteries, and stealing the generators themselves. We must call it out because there are communities where the people know who’s doing it”.

“It is no different from the goat thief. It is no different from the people who steal the copper wires. They put the economy of the local farmer at risk. They put our telecommunication service which gives us our security and access at risk” the prime minister argued.

He said some persons may not be aware of the serious consequences of their actions but declared that to be “no excuse”.