KILOMETRES of steel and aluminium railings along Nelson Mandela Bay’s freeways have been stolen.
This not only puts a financial burden on the municipality’s distressed coffers but also poses a serious danger to public safety.
Unchecked scrap metal and second-hand dealers are fuelling the plunder of the infrastructure.
Thieves have also resorted to stealing drain covers to pawn to scrap-metal dealers.
Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the metro was fighting a losing battle, with incidents of theft daily and the problem rearing its head at different locations with alarming regularity.
Mniki estimated damage caused stood at more than R1-million.
He said an insatiable appetite for metal in the market was driving the problem, which was at nearcrisis proportions.
“This is a serious issue, which carries a huge safety risk factor.
“We are mindful of it and are monitoring the situation closely.
“Between the municipality and the security services, there has been one arrest.”
Although he was uncertain about the number of cases reported to police, as well as pending ones, Mniki said this arrest was a drop in the ocean.
“The situation is not being helped by scrap-metal dealers.
“As long as the market is there, the problem will persist. The police will confirm that municipal and Eskom property has been found at some scrap dealers in the city,” Mniki said.
The municipality was hamstrung because it did not enforce the law.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg confirmed that municipal and Eskom property had been found at some second-hand and scrap metal dealerships around the city.
The police worked closely with some dealers, but others were problematic, Janse van Rensburg said.
At one time, a shipping container was intercepted at the harbour because it had stolen property in it.
This was one of several incidents the police had dealt with, she said.
“Some of the dealers who contravene the provisions in the Second- Hand Goods Act are issued with fines and dealt with according to the law.
“We work closely with some dealers, who report issues to us,” Janse van Rensburg said. – Xolisa Phillip