Scrap metal trade to resume next week

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Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, announced that Government has taken a decision to resume the scrap metal trade as of next Thursday.

During a meeting with scrap metal dealers on Thursday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Walrond detailed that an internal unit has been assembled at the Ministry to facilitate this move, and it will be backed by an external interagency department.

“There is also going to be an external unit that deals with the inspection that will comprise members of the Guyana Police Force, CANU (Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit), Guyana Revenue Authority; and GTT, E-Networks and Digicel – who are the major providers for telecommunications and stakeholders in this sector,” the Minister outlined.

According to the Minister, the trade was closed after Government took office last year, owing to numerous identified gaps within the operation. As such, an assessment and restructuring were needed to ensure there is secure trading and that goods are protected. Standard operating procedures have also been refined.

“We took this long to try to get it right, to make sure that we fill as many gaps that we saw existed in the previous operation of the trade. We believe it’s a work in progress, but we have something that we feel can prevent some of the banes in the existence of this industry,” she highlighted.

“For now, there are some 20 licensed traders in the country (who) will now be able to export scrap metals.”

Minister Walrond indicated that no potential operator would be engaged at present.

Terms of the trade identify that CANU should be notified prior to loading of containers onto vessels; scanned containers must be stored in an area with 24h CCTV surveillance, and all containers must be scanned, regardless of destination.

Shippers must sign a contract to ensure that all required procedures are followed, and any breach would result in strict penalties, including revocation of licences.

Another recommendation is that containers being exported must be fitted with a welded-on lock box, and that containers must be packed from authorised yards.

In regard to CANU’s role, CANU would peruse customs documents submitted by the shipper, verify shipper is present, and photograph containers before and after being loaded. The unit would also be tasked with examining the empty container, and sealing it in the presence of the shipper. The container will then be escorted and scanned by officers, also in the company of the shipper.

After this scanning is completed, the sealed container would be escorted to a designated wharf by CANU and officers from other agencies. While waiting to be loaded onto the vessel, periodic checks would be carried out for any evidence of tampering.

If the sealed container does not depart the designated wharf within seven days, it would be escorted by CANU to be scanned again in the presence of authorities.

While some concerns were raised by dealers in relation to these proposed requirements, authorities have mandated that many of the new guidelines are non-negotiable in an effort to curtail any untoward event. Some serious concerns would be considered, followed by necessary changes.