A masked man approached essential NI Water contractors in Craigavon and demanded they leave the area before threatening to damage equipment.
The threat was condemned by NI Water who appealed for support following the recent threat in Moyraverty Court.
A spokesperson for the utility provider said: “The team had to pack up and leave the site for their safety, which means essential work is not being carried out in the local community.
“NI Water workers and contractors are front-line staff working to maintain essential services – that means keeping your water running and taking wastewater away from your home.”
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “I am proud of the dedication that NI Water staff and contractors have shown over the last year and would like to thank those workers for their ongoing commitment to keeping our public services operating during this pandemic.
“This attack on the very people who are on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19 is unacceptable.
“To threaten NI Water staff and contractors whilst they are trying to service essential water-mains when they are already facing extremely difficult situations with the ongoing pandemic and the recent adverse weather conditions is reprehensible. These attacks are reckless and waste precious resources – I would call on the whole community to condemn these actions.”
Dermott McCurdy, Head of Capital Delivery at NI Water commented: “Our contractors are in the area to carry out essential upgrades to the water mains.
“This work, representing a £50k investment, would have addressed structural defects to bring customers in the area a more reliable and secure water supply. For someone to threaten and intimidate them for simply doing their job, is intolerable.
“We have had no other choice but to remove the team which in turn, will delay these vital works for the whole community. They will only return when an appropriate risk assessment is completed and more importantly, when they feel it is safe for them to undertake the work.
“This is a prime example of the mindless actions of some ruining the benefits for all.
“NI Water is calling on local elected representatives to help support us in returning to the area and ensuring this doesn’t happen again.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Catherine Nelson has asked that the threat be removed immediately.
“A masked man has approached NI Water contractors working in Moyraverty Court, Craigavon insisting on protection money and threatening to damage equipment,” she said.
“Unsurprisingly the contractor has pulled out and the investment into the area is now at risk.
“The individual responsible is in no way reflective of the local community and should remove this threat immediately so that works can be resumed.
“Any failure to do so is denying investment into the local area and does not have the backing of the wider community.”
Sign Up To Our Newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter for major breaking news stories as they happen – right to your inbox.