(Jamaica Observer) – Scrap metal dealers on Wednesday staged a protest at the Riverton City landfill in Kingston over government’s decision to shut down the trade.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda on Monday an-nounced a stop to all scrap metal trade effective Tuesday, with the exception of manufacturers who generate their own scrap metal.
The ban followed a series of theft of critical infrastructure.
The decision, however, left many dealers fuming.
“I think they need to focus on investigating the thieves instead of locking down everybody. That not right,” a protester, who gave his name only as ‘Devon’, told the Observer.
“It is not fair for you to be doing your little hustling legally, and because of other people who feel that them must take away people things, you lock down our food,” he continued.
The irate man, bearing a placard describing the government as “wicked to poor people” was among a large gathering who stood at the entrance to the dump, to highlight their situation.
Their screams grabbed the attention of a few motorists, who were driving along the busy Spanish Town Road.
The government has on more than one occasion suspended the trade after it was discovered that unscrupulous persons were stealing guard rails, generators, manhole covers, and other items, to meet the demand.
In the most recent incident, thieves entered the Colbeck Irrigation pumping station in St Catherine, where they vandalised critical agricultural equipment valued at some $15 million.
The sugar sector alone has lost more than $87 million to scrap metal thieves in the past 21 months, according to Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton.