Belfast Telegraph

Masked men target water workers

Water mains workers in Northern Ireland have been targeted by a gang of masked men wielding iron bars who set their lorry alight.

The contractor for NI Water was carrying out an upgrade when the attack happened in the Ladbrook Drive area of North Belfast.

The lorry was smashed with bars and then set alight. There were no injuries, NI Water said.

A spokeswoman added: "The real shame of this situation is that it will be the local community who will suffer because of the mindless destruction of a few.

"The water mains rehab work which is presently being undertaken by NI Water is solely concerned with the improvement of the quality of water being delivered to our customers and the reduction of interruptions and leakage on the system."

One reason for the attack could be because of erroneous fears that meters being installed could be a preliminary to the introduction of water charging. Meters can be used for a variety of purposes including monitoring water flow.

Any decision on charging is a matter for the Executive and such a measure has been ruled out for the foreseeable future.

NI Water withdrew its contractors from the area following the serious attack.

The spokeswoman added: "Our paramount concern is the safety of our workers and we will not put them in danger.

"The contractor was working on a £10 million scheme to improve the supply of water in the area, this attack is completely unwarranted, unprovoked and unnecessary.

"Our teams are there working for the good of the community to provide a safe and reliable service."

The PSNI and fire service attended.

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