Mornington Island community left in the dark for 15 months waiting for street light repairs


Updated

April 25, 2018 09:41:15

A remote Indigenous council in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in Queensland says the community’s safety is in jeopardy and local police cannot perform their job properly as most of the town of about 1,000 residents has been without street lights for approximately 15 months.

The Mornington Shire Council said a significant number of street lights on Mornington Island, which are owned by the council, were damaged by lightning in February 2017.

Chief executive Frank Mills said the council had been trying to get the lights fixed by Ergon Energy ever since to protect the safety of the community.

“Crossing the street after dark creates a very dangerous situation for them, creates a dangerous situation for motorists so it’s just not acceptable,” Mr Mills said.

“The police have enormous issues doing their job of a night time because of the lack of street lighting,” he said.

Mornington Island Senior Sergeant Emma Reilly said no lighting was dangerous for police who often work on the streets.

“We can’t see what’s coming towards us and when we’re dealing with an incident, wherever it may be on the street, you cannot see anything around you because it’s so dark,” Sergeant Reilly said.

Lack of lighting a health and safety issue for police

“There’s always incidents, especially at night that we attend that cause issues for us when there’s no lighting,” Sergeant Reilly said.

“Sometimes we cannot go to a job because it’s so dark so we can’t attend that call for service.”

She said if there was fighting in the street, and if police responded when there was no lighting at all it would be dangerous.

“We assist Queensland Ambulance and when you’re trying to stretcher people out into the street and you just cannot see anything, it makes it very difficult.”

Sergeant Emma Reilly said there were also risks for motorists.

“When we’re turning corners, if there’s a person on the road or an animal, you just don’t see them until it’s like you’re right on top of them basically.” she said.

Mr Mills said the council had to pay Ergon $120,000 up front for the repairs before they would schedule the works and the council had paid the money about 12 months later because it had to wait for disaster funding to be approved.

After paying for the repairs, he said the council was told Ergon had scheduled the works for August.

“Effectively Ergon’s left us in the dark for a long period of time and they’re going to continue to leave us in the dark in the future and that’s not acceptable in this day and age.”

Member for Traeger Rob Katter said the situation on Mornington Island was regrettable.

“It always becomes harder trying to get anything done in remote places like that and it’s part of the adversity of living there and you shouldn’t have to put up with it,” Mr Katter said.

“If your street lights won’t work in Townsville or Brisbane, I’m sure Ergon would be on to it quick smart.”

Delays with disaster funding

Mr Katter said he was aware there had been delays with disaster funding making its way to councils in the past.

“There’s a lot of issues with the way that funding. I haven’t thought of it in terms of other infrastructure like lighting, so I guess that’s part of another discussion that we’d have.”

Mr Mills said Ergon was made aware of the safety concerns impacting the community and police.

Ergon Energy said it had offered to expedite work on a number of damaged streetlights on Mornington Island after discussions with the council and crews were scheduled to start works early next month.

The Ergon Energy spokesperson said the company negotiated payments for projects based upon scale and customer type and used any initial payments to undertake work on the design and any special material procurement.

The spokesperson said some of the damaged streetlights on Mornington Island would be replaced with more robust LED lights, which were more cost-effective for remote communities.

Topics:

electricity-energy-and-utilities,

indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander,

safety,

burketown-4830,

mount-isa-4825,

normanton-4890,

aurukun-4871

First posted

April 25, 2018 08:59:07



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