(Jamaica Observer) The Government on Tuesday banned the scrap metal trade in a desperate move to save the country’s infrastructure by putting a new breed of brazen scavengers out of business.
Thieves, hoping to cash in on the lucrative international trade in scrap metals, removed more than J$1-billion worth of metals from businesses, private residences as well as state property, in three years, with scant regard for their importance to national Shanique Myriesafety and commerce.
Industry, Investments and Commerce Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said Cabinet was forced to take the drastic action of imposing the ban in the national interest, in order to curb the wanton theft and mangling of valuable property.
Railway lines, water pipes, telephone cables, bridges, road signs, gates and even handles from exhumed coffins were vandalised by scrap metal thieves to sell to rogue dealers for export.
“This has not been an easy decision; it took some time to deliberate over the issues because we felt we needed to get as much information as possible so that we fully appreciate the nature of the industry, the persons involved, and the cost-benefit analysis of maintaining the industry,” Tufton told journalists at a press conference at his ministry’s offices in New Kingston.