Residents in Vientiane are suspecting their fellow residents may be the culprits in the spate of thefts of manhole covers which they believe are being sold to scrap metal dealers.
Others believe that scrap metal buyers who ride motorcycle-driven carts round the city seeking people’s unwanted bits of metal, could be the problem.
So far, nobody can say for sure who is responsible as no theft has actually been observed.
Last week a cover on the road in Sokpaluang village in Sisattanak district was stolen, but no one saw the thieves. Presumably they must have come at night while the locals were sleeping.
The residents inserted some tree branches into the hole to warn unsuspecting motorists on the road.
An official from Vientiane Urban Development Administration Authority (VUDAA) Mr Boupha Phonsima told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that the village authorities had previously seized some of the covers but they could not catch the thieves.
“Before we prohibited the scrap metal shops in Vientiane from buying covers from unauthorised persons, we found some in their shops which they had bought from thieves,” he said.
Currently, the VUDAA officials are routinely checking the scrap metal dealers in Vientiane but they have still not seen this particular one. Perhaps the shop owners may be hiding it from the authorities, he suggested.
Nowadays, it’s not only the scrap metal dealers who are suspected but also a group of citizens are thought to be involved in this matter. This is because some of the covers were locked but still disappeared.
If a motorist unknowingly drives into an open manhole a very serious accident would occur, possibly even a fatal one. This is especially true if the vehicle was a motorbike.
Drain covers are set along both sides of the road and have a grill surface to allow excess water to drain through while the covers in the middle of roads are solid and used as access points for underground workings. These are the covers that get stolen most frequentl y.
Once a cover is stolen it is immediately replaced by the VUDAA to protect against accidents.
According to the VUDAA, the cost of a manhole cover in the middle of the road is 500,000 kip each and 200,000 kip for the drainage cover at the side of the road but the thieves will be selling them for much less.
Source: Text: Vientiane Times, Photo J&C