FCDA moves to discourage stealing of manhole covers on Abuja roads

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By Philip Yatai

The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), has introduced the use of materials with `no resale value’ in the production of manhole covers to discourage criminal elements from stealing them.

The authority’s Head of Public Relations, Mr Richard Nduul made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.

Nduul said that the step became necessary, following the unabated stealing of manhole and gully inlet covers by hoodlums and scavengers who sell them as scrap.

He said that over 25,000 manhole and gully inlet covers have been stolen in the last five years due to their secondhand value.

He pointed out that the covers cost a lot of money but were being sold as scrap for peanuts.

He said that the government had resorted to alternative materials instead of iron-made covers to discourage the ugly trend.

The official said that the manhole covers made of concrete and other materials were already being installed in some of the new roads being constructed to test their reliability.

“The authority is looking at materials with virtually no secondhand value in the production of the manhole and gully inlet covers.

“A lot of people have come with proposals, and we are examining them to see which is the best that can work.

“If you look at the new roads that were being constructed, you will see that some of the materials were being deployed already.

“We know that some of them will be vandalised but with time, when the criminals find out that they have no resale value, they will stop,” he said.

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He urged residents to assist the government with information, saying, “See something; say something; and we will do something about it”.

He added that some scavengers caught with stolen manhole covers and their dealers have been arrested and handed over to the police for prosecution.

Mr Peter Olumuji, Secretary, Command and Control Centre, Department of Security Services, FCTA, confirmed that security agencies have taken measures to curb the trend,

Olumuji said that stealing of the manhole covers constitute a serious hazard to road users, particularly pedestrians, who might fall into an open manhole in the night or during the rainy season.

He said that the FCT Administration has taken steps to ensure a holistic monitoring of critical infrastructure, including manhole covers and solar power streetlights.

He disclosed that the administration, in collaboration with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies had deployed a covert operation against manhole cover theft in the city.

He said that the operatives were ordered to arrest and prosecute anyone, including scavengers found with manhole covers.

The secretary lamented that even the concrete manhole covers were being stolen.

“The administration is also working with local authorities, the traditional chiefs, and their subjects to secure every critical infrastructure in the territory.

“We are also recovering the stolen manhole covers from the criminal elements that stole them and the people they sold them to.

“The police is profiling and investigating the culprits and those found wanting are being prosecuted,” he added.

On scavengers, Olumuji said that the administration had declared zero tolerance to scavenging in the city.

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He said that the FCTA had designated Wasa in Wasa District and Goza in Lugbe District as Scavenges Zones, where scavengers were allowed to operate in an organised manner and be properly monitored.

“All the scavengers roaming about in the city have become criminals, stealing peoples’ valuables within the neighbourhood, including manhole and gully inlet covers.

“Scavenging is playing a crucial role in the nation’s economy, but unfortunately, some criminal elements have joined the group and are given that sector a bad name.

“Unfortunately, their time is up. Security agencies will arrest anyone we found roaming the street in the name of scavenging,” Olumuji said. (NAN)

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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