The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is now clearing a section of the Le Repentir Cemetery, east of the Enmore Martyrs burial site, in an effort to provide more space for the dead, City Hall spokesman Royston King says.
King yesterday told Stabroek News that the Engineer’s Department of the council has stated that space has been a problem at the cemetery for sometime and in an attempt to create more space, they have employed a contractor who is clearing the area. He did not say when the area would be available for burial.
Stabroek News had visited the cemetery on Sunday and observed that tombs lay open and exposed to the elements, while a local scrap iron dealer renovated several tombs which had been damaged by vandals. Persons in the area related that the tombs within the cemetery had been vandalised for reasons other than to retrieve metal bars used in the construction of the tombs for the scrap metal trade. One of the reasons given was that the spots were being resold because of the space constraint.
However, King said the Engineer’s Department has no such report and according to him there have been no recent reports of vandalism in the cemetery. He said the department explained that the section photographed by this newspaper were of tombs that were vandalised some time ago.
And according to him, the only reason the tombs are vandalised is for whatever scrap iron that could be salvaged. When it was pointed out that in some cases the iron rail around the tombs are still standing, King said he was advised that it is scrap iron that vandals are after.
King said one of the problems observed by the Engineer’s Department was the fact that inferior material is being used to build tombs and this is creating its own problems. He said because of the inferior material, the tombs are cracking and whenever funeral goers may step on them, the problem is exacerbated. King disclosed that this has resulted in many tombs being destroyed.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds placed a ban on the scrap iron trade late last week, citing damage done to state and private property and tombs.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) stated that persons have been complaining about the illegal activity taking place in Le Repentir and in some cases the perpetrators removed the metal bars holding up the concrete. GINA stated that the Prime Minister was forced to take that approach “to curb the problem that continues unabated” with the upsurge in vandalism of “various articles, private and state property and commercial and building sites, containing metal.”
The ban was placed on the trade and export of both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and the Guyana Scrap Metal Dealers have since voiced concern over the most recent ban, several dealers noting that the ban was a huge setback to their businesses.
One dealer, who exports non-ferrous metals, told this newspaper yesterday that some 40 containers, valued more than $76 million, were waiting to be exported. He said the buyers on the international market are hoping that the authorities would lift the ban.
He said members of the association have received reports of persons illegally exporting scrap metal across the border to Brazil, since the neighbouring state has a “booming” scrap metal industry.
In the past, bans were placed on the trade and the authorities had called for the scrap metal dealers to help curb vandalism after several private and public properties suffered at the hands of vandals.