THIEVES have dealt a cruel blow to crews trying to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges in northern NSW.
The thugs are accused of damaging and siphoning fuel from an excavator stationed at Palmvale, south of Tweed Heads, on Wednesday night.
The excavator was working on replacing culverts along Palmvale Road after Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie ripped through the region and triggered widespread major flooding.
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It’s the second time the machine has been targeted. Thieves hit the excavator prior to the floods and siphoned the fuel tank.
The culprits had also left the fuel cap off which allowed the remainder of the diesel to be contaminated with rainwater during Debbie’s deluge.
The latest incident comes after the Tweed Shire Council lost one-quarter of their fleet of plant machinery during the floods.
Manager of Infrastructure Delivery Tim Mackney said it was a low blow.
“This is deplorable and absolutely gutting for the men on site and in the workshop,” Mr Mackney said.
“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.”
“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.”
The cost of repairing the damage caused across the Tweed Shire by the floods brought on by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie currently sits between $50 and $60 million.
The estimated cost to fix flood-damaged roads and bridges alone is $20 million.