Rise in cut cables due to more road works in Singapore: Yaacob

THE number of incidents where telecommunication cables have been cut has grown steadily to seven in 2015 from four in 2013 and 2014, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament on Monday.

So far this year, there have already been three such incidents, Dr Yaacob noted.

He said that the rise in the number of cable cuts has been due to an increase in the number of road works and construction projects across Singapore in the past few years.

All 18 cable cuts from 2013 to 2016 were caused by third-party contractors involved in the construction of new MRT lines such as the Downtown Line and Thomson East-Coast Line, power cabling, water and sewage piping works and other development projects. Of the 18, one was caused by contractors hired by a telecom operator.

Investigations by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) revealed that most of the cable cut incidents could have been avoided if contractors had exercised due diligence and caution when undertaking road works and construction projects.

A contractor who fails to observe precautions, and damages any telecommunication cables while carrying out earthworks, may be fined up to S$1 million and imprisoned for five years. IDA has previously prosecuted errant parties in court, which imposed penalties ranging from S$60,000 to S$570,000.

Dr Yaacob added that IDA is doing more to reduce the occurrence of cable cuts. This includes measures to help facilitate the detection of new underground telecommunication cables. It will investigate and prosecute those responsible for cable cuts, and apply for deterrent sentences on conviction.

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