Scrap Metal thieves derail internet service

Published in the Daily Gleaner, Aug 17, 2015
http://jamaicagleaner.com/article/letters/20150817/scrap-metal-thieves-derail-internet-service
THE EDITOR, Sir:
At the time of writing on Sunday, August 16, 2015, it is now Day 10 of no Internet in Coopers Hill, St Andrew. My neighbours are suffering, along with me and my family.
Our provider, LIME, has told us that “it’s a serious problem, affecting the entire area” and that they are unable to say when service will be restored. When confronted with the question of stolen cables in discussions with LIME, representatives of the company would neither affirm nor deny.
We called Flow with a view to switching to a provider that could actually provide and they, too, admitted that they’re not in a position to take on new customers at this time as their customers, too, are without service because of “a serious problem, affecting the entire area”.
This is the third time in about four years that we’ve been impacted in this way because of stolen cables. Forget my inconvenience because I can’t tweet or see what my family and friends are up to on Facebook. Forget the fact that I can’t pay my bills conveniently from the comfort of my own home. Don’t even think about the fact that I can’t monitor or manage my investments right now.
I wonder what I’d do if I ran a business from my home. Imagine not being able to interact with your stakeholders, to invoice your clients, to make and receive payment. School is about to resume. What of students needing to research and complete assignments?
I wish someone would quantify the net benefit to the country of the scrap metal trade. The Government’s decision to allow export of scrap metal is not fully thought out and is causing more problems than benefits.
Tell me what activity in Jamaica in 2015 generates enough scrap metal to warrant this so-called scrap metal industry. All it does is incentivise the pillaging of infrastructure to benefit very few and penalise those trying to be part of the 21st century.
I wish our telecoms companies would be more strident in decrying the costly side effect of this so-called scrap metal industry, both to their bottom lines and their customers. We, your customers, are with you on this one!
We anxiously await resumption of service.
KELLY MCINTOSH

about the scrap metal “trade” in Jamaica

I felt the need to rant after reading an article in the Jamaica Observer last week.
Here’s my letter that was published April 16 2013:

Dear Editor,
I make reference to your article carried Friday, April 12, 2013 “Mark your metal, Hylton urges”. This is not the answer to the problems associated with the restarted scrap metal industry.

To begin with, there is no manufacturing now taking place in Jamaica that produces enough scrap metal to sustain any sort of trade in this form of waste. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong here.
It means that the players in this industry will have to resort to other sources of metal to sustain their operations. Hence stolen cables, vandalised properties and compromised infrastructure like bridges, manholes and the like. I would like Minister Hylton to advise us how to “mark” kilometres of cable to prevent theft. I’d also like Minister Hylton to tell me how to “mark” my wrought iron gate, fence and garbage receptacle to prevent theft. His response to an industry that, I argue, offers a net negative value to the nation speaks volumes as to his absolute lack of appreciation for business basics and operational efficiencies. It is not enough to assure Flow, one of the most recent victims of stolen cables, that “rigorous regulations governing the scrap metal trade would make it difficult for stolen material to be exported”. He just does not get it.
The bottom line is that Flow is minus the use of its asset right now, whether the cables are exported now or later, representing a loss in terms of a reduced asset base and reduced income from customers to whom they cannot provide the service without these cables.
Get real, Minister, and get a grip.
Kelly McIntosh

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/results/Get-a-grip-on-scrap–Minister-Hylton_14077880#ixzz2QdflqU6b

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