In wake of the government’s decision to ban the scrap metal trade, dealers yesterday blamed the upsurge in vandalism for material on poor monitoring to authenticate the source of supplies.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who has responsibility for the sector, announced the ban on Thursday, while noting numerous complaints and reports of vandalism of state and private properties, and in particular, tombs within Le Repentir Cemetery.
Dealers yesterday said the decision would leave many persons without jobs. While the Guyana Scrap Metal Association, which was formed several years ago, has not been a fully united body, several dealers told Stabroek News yesterday that vandalism of public properties, including tombs, appeared to be the work of new dealers, “who only want to make fast money.”
Stabroek News contacted the President of the association Percy Cole for a comment on the ban yesterday, but he said he was unavailable at the time.
However, one dealer in the city stated that he put systems in place when he realised that suppliers were in the habit of vandalising various public properties, in order to obtain the metal.
He said the system he has utilised included the logging of information from the supplier, including that person’s name, address, the registration number of the vehicle used to transport the metal as well as relevant contact information.
He said he had seen this system work.
He complained of the “negative” impact the ban may have on the “legitimate” dealers, who he noted have employed many persons. The man said he currently employs persons from “difficult backgrounds” and the ban would lead to them being involved in activities “on the wrong side of the law,” where looking into the welfare of their families are concerned.
Another dealer in the city told this newspaper that the authorities should work towards implementing a system where the authenticity of the supplier’s product can be identified.
He said currently there are inspectors who “come around” to examine the supplies obtained by the dealers but their visits are not too frequent.
The man said that he invested significant sums of money on his business and this most recent ban, will see him losing millions of dollars.
The man added that the authorities should have “been more reasonable” in implementing the ban, noting that the dealers should be given a least one month’s notice.
He felt the timeframe would give the dealer adequate time to “ship off metal he invested in.”
Hinds, according to a Government Information agency (GINA) release, was forced to take the approach, “to curb a problem that continues unabated” with the upsurge in vandalism of “various articles, private and state property and commercial and building sites, containing metal.”
GINA stated that breaches of security have been found at various locations across the country, including the removal of installation from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) sites, GuySuCo facilities and burial grounds.
There had been previous instances which forced the Prime Minister to place a ban on the trade and following discussions between the ferrous and non-ferrous metal dealers and the authorities, the dealers through the association had vowed to help curb vandalism.
According to GINA, scrap metal dealers claim that the industry provides a livelihood for more than 3,000 Guyanese.