Dealers concerned about GT&T auction of scrap metal

The Guyana Scrap Metal Recyclers Association (GSMRA) has expressed concern over the recent auction of several tons of non-ferrous scrap metal by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).

The association has written to the government on the issue that according to member Jagdeshwar Sadhu poses a threat to the ban which the government placed on the trade of non-ferrous metals four years ago. Several attempts by this newspaper to obtain a comment from officials of GT&T last week were unsuccessful.

Sahdu has written to the Offices of the Prime Minister and the President on the issue. According to him, the telephone company recently conducted an auction of several tons of scrap metal, representing the remnants of cables which the company stores at its facility on Carifesta Avenue close to the National Park. He said the auction was undertaken by the company without it being advertised.

The contract to remove the metal was won by an ‘unlicensed dealer’ and the entity had taken the metal to a location in the city where it sits in a parked truck, exposed to vandals because the dealer does not have a proper storage facility to hold the metal.

Sahdu stated that he had written to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds on the issue of eradicating vandalism and theft in an effort to strengthen cooperation within the industry and among relevant stakeholders. The entities which are most affected he said, must work with the industry in fashioning solutions. The copper metal in GT&T‘s cables is prized in the trade, he noted.

He told Stabroek News that, “those cables (phone cables) are the bone of contention in the trade and everybody is watching it and wants to get their hands on it.“ He said that ironically, the export of the non-ferrous metals was undertaken primarily because GT&T had complained repeatedly that its cables were being vandalized causing disruptions to its service as well as loss of revenue.

Stabroek News understands that the government had moved to relocate the unit within the Commerce Ministry which monitors the trade and sale of non-ferrous metals, to the Housing Ministry late last year. It was noted that in the interim, staff within the unit were unsure of their status resulting in their operations being at standstill. According to a source at the unit, the Housing Ministry is still fine-tuning the unit’s functions and he noted that this may have resulted in the auction and subsequent arrangements by GT&T going unnoticed.

He explained that when the sale occurred, officials of the scrap metal monitoring unit would not have been aware of it. “Whether the bidders were licensed, own requisite storage facility and adequate means of transporting the metal would not have been verified,“ he observed. He said under normal circumstances the inspectors as well as the police would have visited the facilities owned by the dealer.

The Office of the Prime Minister had instituted the ban on the export of non-ferrous metals four years ago after persons, mainly vandals, dismantled and destroyed several items of public property. While the ban remains in force, trade in the metals continues locally, and licensed dealers who collected metals prior to the ban being instituted are being allowed to ply their trade within the confines of an arrangement which is subject to scrutiny by the authorities.

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