Tweed Shire Council says thieves stealing fuel from plant parked on site are hampering its crews’ efforts to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges as quickly as possible.
Just days before the flood on March 30, thieves syphoned the tank of an excavator working on replacing culverts at Palmvale Road, Palmvale.
A council spokesperson told media they then left the fuel cap off so the remaining fuel was contaminated by rainwater, requiring the machine to be serviced.
The council believes the same thieves struck again last Wednesday night.
But this time, they may have taken more than diesel in the tank, as crews could not restart the machine after refuelling it.
‘This is deplorable and absolutely gutting for the men on site and in the workshop,’ said council’s infrastructure delivery manager Tim Mackney.
‘When you appreciate that we lost one-quarter of our plant and fleet, plus had our entire fuel stores contaminated by floodwater when the Buchanan Street Depot went under, to now rob our crews of the practical work they can achieve to repair roads and bridges and support the community recovery is a low blow.’
Flood damage estimates for the Tweed Shire sit between $50 and $60 million. The figure for roads and bridges alone is $20 million.
‘Adding another tank of fuel to the bill may seem insignificant but when the theft of fuel and damage to plant puts a crew out of work for a day or two that affects everyone.’
Council will be unable to get back to full strength until its damaged fleet and plant can be replaced. But, as much as it can, crews this week will return to their normal construction work program as contractors continue the flood clean-up.
But despite the setbacks, council said its crews would be back at Palmvale Road, Palmvale, to complete installation of new culverts shortly. They’ll also restart work on the Blackspot Program on Clothiers Creek Road, realigning a curve between the Pacific Motorway and Wallum Court, Clothiers Creek.
They’ll also be back at Moolau Avenue, Tweed Heads, upgrading drainage and the road pavement and providing a formal turnaround area at Ducat Park.
Work also will restart on reconstructing the road at Airfield Avenue, Murwillumbah.