Scrap metal dealers plead for trading to reopen
The Guyana Metal Recyclers Association on Wednesday hosted a meeting where they provided a platform for their stakeholders to publicly address concerns regarding the closure of the scrap metal trade and its effects on their livelihoods.
Spearheading the meeting was the Association’s Secretary, Stephen Bourne and Treasurer, Shalini Dias.
The Association reminded that metal trading was abruptly suspended on September 30, 2020 and since, though they have been in constant communication with Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Waldron, and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, they have not received any word on when metal trading will re-open.
The Association told the media that on November 17, 2020, they had a meeting with Minister Waldron where she promised that the trade will open no later than December 15, 2020.
The News Room understands that the Association was subsequently informed by Minister Waldron that the re-opening will be done in phases after a new and improved scanner is installed. However, a date to when this phase will commence is currently unknown.
The Association believes that all options have been exhausted and feels as though its membership is being treated unfairly.
“We would want to appeal to the President to understand the plight of scrap metal dealers…we are indeed facing challenging times and we would like to call on you to have this trade re-open,” Bourne expressed.
Meanwhile, Dias in pleading for assistance, stated that this is not the first time the trade was closed. In 2015, when the previous administration took office, they were closed for two years.
“The funny thing is, as soon as there is a change in government or anything, we are the only industry that always faces this problem. We are working good today then at the end of the day you hear there is a closure without any notice,” Dias said.
Dias further explained that this closure had nothing to do with the recent cocaine bust in Belgium which was connected to a shipment of scrap metal from Guyana.
She claims that the trade was closed a month prior to that incident.
The News Room understands that the Association was informed that they were closed for an audit process. However, the closure was further extended due to Belgium’s drug bust last October.
Stakeholders who attended the meeting said that they have been severely affected by this five-month closure. For some, metal trading is the only job they have, as such they have been out of jobs since last September.
“I’m a single parent and I have three children. It’s been really affecting me because I’m not doing anything right now and it’s really hard. My stuff is stored on a premise that is not mine and everyday day I getting some terrible cuss to move the stuff,” Anniet Brummell a scrap collector explained.
Additionally, Leonard Deygoo, the sole breadwinner for his home stated that for the past five months he has been out of a job with little to no money to sustain his family.
“I have six children and I have internet bills to pay because they don’t have school. I also have a lot of other bills to pay. All my scrap is in the dealer’s yard so I want the government to reopen the trade so I can continue to earn money,” Deygoo said.
The Guyana Metal Recyclers Association currently controls 23 metal exporters and several metal collectors.