Thieves make mockery of scrap metal trade resumption

Industry Minister Anthony Hylton (second left, foreground), members from the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Customs Department watch as a policeman uses a sniffer dog during an inspection of scrap metal at Riverton City in Kingston yesterday.
Industry Minister Anthony Hylton (second left, foreground), members from the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Customs Department watch as a policeman uses a sniffer dog during an inspection of scrap metal at Riverton City in Kingston yesterday.

KINGSTON — Hours before the government officially reopened the controversial scrap metal trade, thieves struck at the Red Hills, St. Andrew home of parliamentarian Pearnel Charles.

Vandals removed several metal tables and chairs from a verandah at the MP’s home, raising doubts about new measures put in place to prevent the anarchy that forced a shutdown of the trade under the previous Jamaica Labour Party government.

“They came in and cleaned off every one. Maybe I am being targeted because they know I am defiantly opposed to the scrap metal trade. As far as I am concerned we don’t have a scrap metal trade, what we have is metal being scrapped,” Charles told the Jamaica Observer last night.

Much to lose

The country, he said, stands more to lose than any financial gain from the trade. “When you put a cost to security as a result of these metal scrapping terrorists you will see that it is zero for the country. We are losing man hours, industries have shut down. When you consider the amount of people who lose work, we are losing millions; 10 times what we are saving,” he said.

Charles said it was the second time in two years that he and his family had suffered at the hands of scrap metal thieves.

“Two years ago, they came with a truck and cut up my wife’s metal water tank and took it away. We are under pressure. We brought three dogs on board and they killed one and stole the other two. They chopped off the head of a Doberman,” Charles said.

He was adamant that the resumption of the trade would bring a rise in criminality as there was nothing to discourage stealing. “The country will be better off without it, but we are good at politicising the poverty in Jamaica for political support,” he said.

Yesterday, the Jamaica Environment Trust lashed out against the resumption of the trade, saying in a release that the Government was incapable of regulating it.

“We are not convinced that the Government has the enforcement capability to regulate the trade. We are also concerned about the Riverton site, and had written to Minister Anthony Hylton, the minister of industry, investment and commerce, on December 20, 2012, expressing our scepticism that the Riverton site was able to accommodate increased traffic, and referring to all the many unsolved public health, environmental and security problems at Riverton,” the release stated. (Observer)

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