The St. Catherine Police are seeking the public’s assistance, as they investigate the theft of 53 batteries from solar lighting systems from sections of Highway 2000 in the parish.
Persons with information that can assist the investigations are asked to call the Highway 2000 East-West toll free number at 1-888-429-5632 or the Ferry Police at 705-8349 or 705-8112.
Chief Executive Officer of the Toll Authority, the regulatory agency for the toll road, Joan Fletcher, said the batteries were discovered missing over the last two weeks during routine checks along the corridor.
She said six stainless steel boxes containing 24 batteries were discovered missing from metal post lighting systems situated along the Spanish Town eastbound on-ramp on March 24. These boxes, she points out, were placed approximately nine metres above ground on the metal post.
She explained that another three boxes containing 12 batteries were stolen from sections of the Mandela Highway westbound on-ramp on March 30, while an additional 17 were removed from the eastbound off-ramp, along that corridor, on March 31.
In the March 31 incident, Mrs. Fletcher said quick action by the police, who were alerted of the thieves’ activities, led to the recovery of four damaged batteries in an adjoining cane field. She pointed out that the culprits are believed to have tossed the batteries away in the field while fleeing the lawmen.
“The matter is still under investigation,” she added.
The solar lighting systems were installed at a cost of approximately $150 million by the developer of the St. Catherine leg of Highway 2000, TransJamaican Highway Limited. The provision has served to enhance the visibility of motorists and other users of the highway at the corridor’s key interchanges, particularly at night.
TransJamaican’s Quality Maintenance and Planning Engineer, Melbourne Lyn-Cook, points out that the thefts have not only had a significant financial impact on the company and its shareholders, but has rendered the affected sections of the lighting systems inoperable.
He said that while this poses some discomfort for users due to reduced visibility for users at night, the company has, to date, not received any report of mishaps.
Mr. Lyn-Cook advised that the remaining 175 batteries have been temporarily relocated to a secure storage area, while the company explores effective security mechanisms and measures for implementation, which will serve as deterrents.
“Once an effective solution to secure them has been determined, the company will schedule the re-installation and replacement of the fixtures, as our budget permits,” he added.
Additionally, he said routine patrols, currently being carried out, will continue in the effort to monitor the area and provide assistance where needed.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter