Copper thieves setting back restoration work on Telecom infrastructure

Copper thieves are setting back restoration work on TelEm Group’s telecommunication infrastructure, part of which was damaged with the passing of hurricane Gonzalo.
The thieves have been going into action in the dead of night, cutting copper cables set aside to connect pockets of neighbourhoods worst affected by hurricane Gonzalo.
“The latest incident happened recently in the Sucker Garden area where brand new copper cable was cut and removed from a site even before we had a chance to connect customers,” said Manager, Outside Plant, Mr. Marco London.
He said the thefts are putting back restoration work for workers in the field who are forced to remove the cables from the work sites at the end of each day. The workmen are also having to ensuring the cables left behind at the end of the day, are properly concealed and protected to prevent further theft.
“We have to take these precautions and this is causing a slowdown in the number of customers we can reconnect to the infrastructure each day in different areas,” said Mr. London.
He said some three weeks after the passing of hurricane Gonzalo, close to 300 TelEm Group customers in various areas throughout the island continue to be affected and are awaiting reconnection for landline and internet service.

“Unfortunately for some of these customers, there is a slight delay in having their service resumed since we have decided, along with GEBE and Cable TV to put our cables underground right away rather than repair and restore damaged overhead cables.
“This will cause some inconvenience in the short term, but the in the long term it will be better for the customer because the underground cables are better protected and will also allow for quicker reconnections in the future should there be any other hurricanes or major incidents,” said the Outside Plant manager.
He said the areas where the utility companies are going underground within the next two weeks include Sucker Garden and Betty’s Estate, however there are other areas, such as Middle Region, Dutch Quarter and Nazareth, where the companies cannot lay underground cables because of succession land issues and are therefore forced to maintain an overhead cabling system.
“We are doing all that we can in several areas to have customers back in landline and internet service as soon as it is physically possible.
“We are working along with GEBE and St. Maarten Cable TV in different areas for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, but none of us are helped by the inclement weather that the island has experienced in recent days,” continued Mr. London.
He said the setback of heavy rain, combined with the theft of copper cables is slowing down progress, but customers can rest assured that technicians will be getting to them soon.
He has meantime urged members of the public who witness people stealing company equipment and copper cables to report the matter to the police right away.

The Outside Plant manager said in areas where customers do not have service because of felled poles and dangling drop wires, these customers should ensure they report the outage to TelEm Group’s Customer Care department so that adjustments can be made to their monthly subscription fee.
“Unless we are officially informed a customer’s service has been interrupted because of damage to the telecommunication infrastructure, they will continue to be charged for service,” Mr. London said.