KINGSTON — The controversial scrap metal trade – which was suspended 18 months ago amidst widespread theft amounting to $1 billion over the past four years – is to resume in the third week of January under far more stringent regulations, Industry Minister Anthony Hylton announced yesterday.
Under the new measures, restrictions will be placed on the type of scrap metal to be exported and all containers must be loaded under the supervision of the police, custom officers and in some cases the military, at three designated sites in Clarendon, Riverton City and Hagley Park Road.
Hylton, who made the announcement at the weekly Jamaica House press briefing in Kingston, warned that there will be appropriate penalties for non-compliant exporters who could be fined up to $2 million and relieved of their licence.
“It cannot be a laissez-faire, ad hoc approach where traders and exporters do as they please. That will not happen under my watch,” Hylton insisted. The trade generated some US$100 million in its peak in 2006 and provided employment for 10,000 persons.
Under the new regime, Hylton said there will be a distinction between industrial scrap generated by companies from their manufacturing operations and non-industrial scrap, which is purchased from individuals, and which have posed the major challenge in monitoring the trade.
All exporters, individuals and companies will now be required to post a $7-million bond, a portion of which will be used to compensate victims of theft.
Additionally, scrap material will be on display at the sites for five days to facilitate public viewing before the loading of containers can commence.
“Anything remotely suspect will be detained for investigation by the police and customs for an additional 10 days, to allow for viewing by the public,” Hylton said, adding that a website will be set up for the public to view and lodge complaints of theft.
Restriction has also been imposed on the exportation of copper, irrigation pipes, manhole covers, I-beams, railway lines and sign posts. (Observer)