ALL scrap metal dealers' licences in the Western Division were suspended indefinitely as of yesterday afternoon out of concern that the widespread theft and sabotage of copper and metal had compromised national security, the safety of citizens and was a threat to public order.
And the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority has stopped all exports of scrap metal pending an inspection of all containers bound for overseas.
Also, beginning Monday security forces will be conducting detailed inspections of all scrap metal dealers in the west.
The decision was made by the Western Division Scrap Metal Task Force and endorsed by the Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki after a spate of copper thefts from Telecom Fiji Limited, the Fiji Roads Authority, Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Fiji Electricity Authority over the past few months.
He said one of the biggest concerns was the theft of copper earth wire from FEA transformers because of the damage it could cause to electrical appliances and also to homes.
"There is a real danger to the public because if there is a power surge, people could not only lose their electrical appliances but also their homes and when you factor in the real possibility of widespread blackouts to areas connected to these transformers then we have a real issue with security," he said.
"As of today, we have made a decision to suspend all licences in the Western Division. Police officers at all police posts in the division will be conducting road blocks and inspecting all scrap metal dealers' vehicles," he said.
Commander Cawaki added that the Scrap Metal Decree was being enforced because of the wide spread damage to infrastructure.
"The FRA have raised numerous complaints about roads being dug up and galvanised culverts removed, FSC is complaining about the theft of rail lines and carts and these concerns combined with the theft from TFL and FEA is a direct threat to safety and public order.
"This suspension and operation is in effect immediately and will remain in force until we have ascertained the magnitude of the problem, brought all dealers into compliance with the decree and ensured the safety and security of public infrastructure," he said.