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No suspension of trade - Samuda

Published:Tuesday | January 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Government has no intention of putting a plug on the scrap metal trade anytime soon, despite the multi-million losses being suffered by various industries and the threat to life, limb and property as a result of the actions of criminals who continue to steal key infrastructure items.

"There have been howls from various quarters to suggest that we must once again close the industry and prohibit the export of scrap metal. From where I stand, I suspect that is more a forlorn hope, than a likely reality in the short term," Karl Samuda Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries declared Tuesday.

"It just needs proper management and I am sure that right now everyone will agree, based on the experiences over the past few months, that it is well regulated and it is running quite well. So we will just be more vigilant and we will solicit the support of all the key players and stakeholders," Samuda told a press conference at his New Kingston office.

Last Thursday Samuda announced changes to the scrap metal regime in the wake of the theft of 74 brass sugar mill bearings with a combined weight of five metric tonnes, valued at $16.5 million, at the Worthy Park Sugar Estate in Clarendon. It is believed that the theft took place between Friday, December 22, 2017 and Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Samuda ordered re-inspection of all scrap metal containers packed for export after Thursday, December 21, as well as the inclusion of brass as a restricted item under the regulations governing scrap metal export.

In 2013, thieves were able to remove a number of similar type rollers, with at least one weighting in excess of half a tonne, from the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon.

This is despite the fact that it would have required the expertise of a master crane operator and quite a number of trucks to carry out the time consuming task. None of the stolen material was ever recovered and no one was ever implicated in this criminal operation.

Telecommunications firms Flow and Digicel, as well as the National Water Commission have had to ramp up security operations to thwart the efforts of thieves who remove vast volumes cable wiring, and equipment, disrupting service to customers.