Stakeholders are calling on authorities to swiftly reopen the scrap metal trade after it was suspended following the massive drug bust in Belgium.
General Secretary of the Guyana Metal Recyclers Association (GMRA), Steven Bourne said a meeting was convened with Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn where it was communicated that all scrap metal dealers should not be affected by the investigations into the cocaine bust in a shipment of scrap metals originating from Guyana.
He claimed that with the closure of the trade, about 90% of workers in the sector were on the breadline.
“This situation, with drugs in exports, is found in many cargos leaving Guyana and it’s not specific to scrap metal export. We pleaded with the Honourable Minister to ensure that systems are in put in place so we can continue exporting. The losses are tremendous, because hundreds of people are employed and they look forward for their daily bread. Most of the exporters would have to lay off about 90 per cent of them,” the General Secretary said.
Reports are that licences for scrap metal shipment have been suspended since September.
Minister Benn had told media operatives on Monday that the scrap metal trade would resume once protocols were in place to oversee the loading of containers and other surveillance measures.
“I had a meeting with some scrap metal traders last week, who were anxious to get back into business and I said we couldn’t support that decision, because new protocols have to be put in place and some joint arrangements have to be put in place between the CANU, GRA and others in respect of surveillance, packing of the containers and movement from the place of scanning to where they are loaded onto the vessels,” the Minister expressed.
It was reported that Belgian authorities had intercepted a vessel that allegedly left Guyana in September with a whopping 11.5 tonnes of cocaine – the largest drug bust ever.
The estimated street value of the narcotic was pegged at €900 million or US$1.06 billion. The drug was disguised as scrap metal and placed inside a steel container, which was, in turn, packed into a shipping container and loaded onto a transatlantic vessel.
Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit James Singh had told this publication that investigations have so far revealed that the huge quantity of cocaine was imported into Guyana from another country after which it was stockpiled and then loaded into the container and ultimately onto the vessel, which reportedly left Guyana in September.
Images of the scanned container had disappeared thus leading to the arrest of several employees of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); they have since been released. CANU has since issued a wanted bulletin for businessman Marlon Primo in connection with the Belgian drug bust.