Local transport chiefs have warned motorists across South Essex to expect severe disruption after a night of tarmac thefts that is being described as ‘unprecedented.’
Fuelled by the recent news that scrap tarmac prices have never been higher, organised criminal gangs struck across South Essex overnight, with one of the worst cases happening between Progress Road and Kent Elms corner – both westbound lanes have been entirely removed and it could take four months to repair the damage.
Police officers have alerted all scrap tarmac dealers to remain vigilant for any individuals that arrive with a large quantity of tarmac to sell, and they have all been reminded that stolen tarmac has a number of features which make it easy to identify its original location. For example, the 25m strip that was stolen from Western Esplanade will have distinctive markings from drivers doing 18 mph that have the inability to see a large and prominent ’30’ sign, believing that the 20 mph average speed zone actually stretches from The Kursaal to Chalkwell.
Local bus operators have announced that a number of local routes will be replaced by walking buses while repair works are carried out, but passengers are being reminded that certain tickets are not transferrable from one operator to another. Pedestrians with single operator tickets will have to walk at least 25 paces away from a rival company’s service.
In another late development, local government officials in Southend have confirmed that technically 148 of the overnight thefts can be classed as potholes, and therefore these could take up to nine months to repair due to planning issues.