(Trinidad Newsday) The payphones that were being loaded onto a flat bed truck on Thursday were not stolen. Instead they were dismantled as part of TSTT’s nationwide removal of payphones.

Yesterday Newsday reported that Graeme Suite, senior manager, public relations and external affairs for state telecoms company TSTT, said he was unaware of any authorised removal of the company’s payphones and promised to look into it.

In an e-mailed response yesterday Suite said TSTT had begun removing its paystations across the country.

“This is as a result of dwindling demand for this service by the public over the years. The availability of ubiquitous mobile services and complementary messaging services have provided much more convenient alternatives for customers to communicate. The physical removal of the paystations is to minimise any risk of them posing a health or safety issue to the public and to avoid the equipment being vandalised,” Suite said.

Newsday asked who was the company contracted to remove them and at what cost, along with the value of the payphones and the time frame for the project, but was told those answers and possibly others will come at a later date.

Newsday stumbled upon three men disconnecting payphones on Frederick Street on Thursday morning and recorded the men loading the devices onto a truck. One of the men said they were sent by “the company” to remove the payphones, as they were now to be sold as scrap iron.

Nothing about the men suggested that they took it upon themselves to rid the city of payphones.

However, since the scrap-iron trade is lucrative business, Newsday inquired from TSTT if it was sanctioned. Newsday also contacted the Port of Spain Mayor, Joel Martinez, who had no idea that the removals had been scheduled.



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