(Trinidad Guardian) Thieves made off with large chunks of a 68-foot metal bridge across the Cap-de-Ville River, Cedros, over the weekend in a brazen theft of material for sale as scrap metal. The thieves used a blowtorch to cut away huge beams from the base of the bridge, as well as large chunks of the railings. They left behind smaller bits of metal which were seen floating in the river yesterday. A woman, who lives nearby, said she saw a strange green van in the area on Friday, the day the base of the bridge was discovered missing. “I heard that some people cut up the iron from the bridge and sold it but I don’t know who is responsible for this,” she said.
Yesterday, police stopped traffic along the South Central Road, Cap-de-Ville, which links Cedros to the Dunlop Roundabout, Point Fortin, causing delays and inconvenience for scores of commuters. The woman complained that taxis were not working in the area because of the blocked road. “Now we have to walk out the road to get a taxi. It is difficult for us now,” she added. President of the Granville Community Council, Shankar Teelucksingh, said the road was a major access route from Cedros to San Fernando, as it bypasses Point Fortin. He said apart from large sections of the bridge, scrap metal thieves also carted away Petrotrin lines carrying crude oil, WASA valves and copper wires from telephone poles throughout the district. Teelucksingh added: “When the state of emergency was in progress, the Government said scrap iron dealers were operating with no licence.
“Government must now establish a central body that will purchase and regulate all scrap metal exportation.”
He said the illegal sale of scrap iron was rampant along the southwestern peninsula of Trinidad with thieves stealing any type of iron. Officials of the Ministry of Works, including technical officers, visited the bridge yesterday. Chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation Leo Doodnath said the road was closed as a safety measure. He said the stolen support beams had been installed to support heavy traffic but now the base had been weakened and it was dangerous for heavy vehicles to drive over. Minister of Local Government Chandresh Sharma expressed concern about the theft. “It is extremely unfortunate that people will steal a bridge. Our engineers from the Works Ministry will be on hand to look at an immediate solution,” he said.
He said the theft was carried out by an organised crime ring and was confident the police would arrest the thieves.