Saturday February 16, 2013
Vandalism takes toll on PLUS
PETALING JAYA: Thieves carting away fences and manhole covers on the highways are exacting a costly toll on PLUS Berhad and those who use its roads.
The highway concessionaire has cited the irresponsible acts as a cause of fatal accidents on the expressways, besides leaving it with a RM10mil bill for repair works each year.
Most of the accidents were caused by animals roaming onto the highways after fences were cut.
PLUS chief operating officer Mohammad Fuad Khusairi said the thieves also stole drain and manhole covers, signboard poles, cables from the emergency telephones and the lightning protection copper rods for its scrap value.
“They even take flush valves, shower roses and hook hangers from the toilets at the rest areas,” he told The Star.
He said the fencing was among the most targeted item either by thieves out to make a quick buck from its scrap metal value or villagers seeking faster access onto the highways.
Mohammad Fuad described vandalism as a huge problem on all its highways with the North-South Expressway (NSE), North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite) and the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link Expressway (Linkedua) the most badly hit.
On the NSE alone, he said, PLUS forked out millions in repair and replacements works for the 9,461 cases of theft and other vandalism like graffiti on signboards over the past two years.
Mohammad Fuad said the stretches from Pagoh to Simpang Ampat, from Alor Setar Selatan to Sungai Petani Selatan and from Bidor to Ipoh on the NSE were the top “hot spots” for thefts.
To deal with the cutting of fences, he said signs were erected at 29 locations along the NSE last year, urging motorists and other road users to be wary of cows after PLUS found a rise in animal sightings along the expressway.
Besides cows, water buffaloes, tapirs, wild boars and even dogs, monkeys and goats have been seen straying on the highways.
“The fences are often vandalised by locals trying to create faster access onto the highways or to avoid paying toll.
“All types of fencing, including the chain link and barb wire fences go missing along with the fence post and even the guardrails,” he said, adding that drug addicts and unemployed villagers from the surrounding areas had been caught stealing the fences.
Mohammad Fuad also cited instances where the infrastructure was damaged almost immediately after being installed, such as street lights and the copper cables from emergency telephones.
The most recent case occurred on Jan 18 when an individual was caught red-handed by PLUS Ronda officers trying to steal the highway fencing at KM104.9 between Sungai Petani Selatan-Sungai Petani Utara on the NSE.
“The incident occurred just a day after new fencing was installed at the location,” he said.
He said they were also frequently replacing signboards which were defaced with graffiti.
To overcome the problem, he said, PLUS had resorted to replacing the stolen items with material with no scrap value.
The steel posts of fences have been replaced with concrete posts, steel guardrail packers with rubber packers, and aluminium signboards with those of composite materials, he added.