Scrap metal dealers have agreed to allow Police and Customs Officers to be present while their containers are being packed for shipment.
This was one of the conclusions coming from a meeting held last week Wednesday in St. George’s, with scrap metal dealers and Government officials to discuss concerns and to address issues relating to the scrap metal trade.
The meeting identified the need for the presence of Police and Customs Officers, as an immediate measure to ensure that artifacts, which form part of Grenada’s cultural heritage, and stolen items, do not leave the country.
A number of dealers together with other interested persons attended the meeting which was chaired by Minister for the Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development, Glynis Roberts.
Minister Roberts said it was important for the Ministry to bring everyone onboard to discuss the issues and chart the way forward.
She noted the negative impact that the disbanding of metals can have on the environment, if not handled properly.
“As we try to clean up the environment which is a welcomed move, we also need to preserve and conserve what is important to us”, Minister Roberts told the meeting.
The Environment and Trade Minister emphasised the importance of history to Grenada’s tourism product and said that artifacts are valuable assets that cannot be replaced.
“Tourism spans different angles, whether it is bird watching or century’s old traditions”, she explained.
The problems faced by homeowners, utility companies and government, due to the unauthorised removal of property were also raised as cause for concern.
Another recommendation coming out of the meeting was the formation of an association of scrap metal dealers and suppliers as a means to regulate the trade.
It was deemed that with an association and licensing of dealers and suppliers will make them accountable for the items they export and bring about some control on how the trade is done.
The dealers expressed their appreciation that such a meeting was called and pledged their support to do what is necessary to partner with government for the continuance of their trade.
Representatives from the ministries of Tourism and Works, Royal Grenada Police Force, Customs Department and Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority were also at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development is encouraging the public to be vigilant and to report to the Royal Grenada Police Force, any suspicious activities involving the unauthorised removal and stripping of metal from public and private property.
The Ministry has noted the increase in the export of scrap metal to neighbouring countries in recent times and applauds the entrepreneurial spirit of those involved.
The scrap metal trade can also be considered as an effort to “clean up” the environment of unwanted metal and bulky metallic material that have contributed to an unpleasant environment.
However, at the same time, a number of concerns have surfaced because of this opportunity.
It has been brought to the Ministry’s attention that the high demand for certain metals such as copper for export, is the main reason behind the vandalism and unauthorised removal of public and private property.
Reports are that copper cables from utility companies, road signs, manhole covers and other road safety equipment have been increasingly vandalised and stripped of metal for this purpose.
It is also alleged that the vandalism and theft of church bells and crucifixes (crosses); copper pots and cannons from cultural heritage sites are linked with the scrap metal trade.
This practice is not only illegal but also threatens personal and public safety and the unique cultural heritage of Grenada.
Additionally, there are concerns about the degradation of material left behind in the areas where the metal are dismantled and processed prior to packaging for shipment.
These material can easily be transferred into the rivers, streams and other water ways which will ultimately affect human health, fishing stock and other life in the ecosystem.