Vaz announces task force to deal with wire thieves

December 08, 2022

On the heels of another instance of copper persons stealing fibre optic cables, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz says he will be assembling a task force to combat the criminal activity.

Vaz made the announcement on Thursday during a press conference held by telecoms giant FLOW, at The Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in New Kingston. The minister said that just a day prior, he had met with the island's two major telecoms providers to discuss the long-standing problem of bandits stealing their materials to sell the copper.

He said, "Out of the meeting ... I asked the two major telecoms providers to provide me with a template that is agreed on by both, in relation to short term and medium term measures that can be implemented. They have promised me that for next week. I in turn have promised them that come January morning I will be chairing a task force, working group, whatever you want to call it, which is going to bring together all of government and of course the telecoms providers, other ministries, other ministers, the judiciary, the police, everybody who can play a role in this as to how and what we do to bring this under control."

At 1:45 a.m. on Thursday, police apprehended a man, who is suspected of being a key player in the copper theft industry, removing underground wires on Hillcrest Avenue. According to Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, head of the police's Corporate Communications Unit, the man's truck, which was also seized, has been linked to other instances of illegal removal of fibre optic cables. The damages are estimated at about $3 million.

The minister, alongside FLOW Jamaica's Vice-President and General Manager Stephen Price, said that an attack on this framework equates to terrorism.

"An act of vandalism of telecoms infrastructure could be prosecuted under the terrorism prevention act. The penalty for this offence is life imprisonment and it is that serious," Price said.

Under Section 29 of the Malicious Injuries to Property Act, the punishment imposed would be on indictment, imprisonment for up to, but not in excess of, two years, with or without hard labour, or summarily imprisonment up to, but not in excess of, three months with or without hard labour or a fine of $4,000.

Other News Stories