In a bid to curtail the cutting down of the National Power Authority electric cables, the ministry of Trade slammed a ban on the exportation of scrap metals exportation.
The ban has the force even from the presidency but sad to say the smuggling of copper which was why the ban was introduced is still going on.
NPA is still having complaints of the company’s copper wires still being cut down; according to the NPA public relations officer, Victor Wilson Clarke.
Unconfirmed reports say the exportation of these copper materials continues to be a thriving business, in fact a syndicate, which involves the copper merchants, NRA officials, and some Police men.
The alleged claim is that the copper merchants smuggled the copper through Moa Wharf in ‘Pampers’ to Guinea where they make considerable amount of money from its sale and that they are allegedly bribing the police and Customs officers who turn a blind eye to this smuggling scam.
A source, who begged anonymity, stated that “these copper merchants are not touched by the ban; in fact they still want the ban in place because the price of copper will fall here in Sierra Leone and they buy it next to nothing and then sell it at a very high price in Guinea.”
The source claimed that in fact they were the ones that machinate the cutting down of NPA wires so the ban would continue to hold.
On the other hand the ban had been defeating its own purpose- to curtail the cutting down of NPA cables.
Countless numbers of Sierra Leoneans who have been surviving through the scrap metal business sale and export have been stagnated by the ban while the few corrupt copper merchants are reaping huge benefits from the ban.
In effect this development is killing the spirit of the law (le Sprit de Lois).
Patrick Jennifer Culdron of International SL Limited (P.J.C), a small company at Race Course Road that started the only smelting business in the country, is one of the numerous business people who are hard hit by the scrap metal ban.
According to Culdron, the head of the company, they dealt only in aluminum and never on copper or iron.
“We could not continue our smelting because of the ban. People are not bringing business to us now. Before the ban we have up to 180 customers a day and they are mostly women and children who mostly brought in aluminum cans,” he noted.
He said these women and children were not criminals but that they were fending for themselves.
Mr Culdron said he was employing over 50 people before the ban but now had to scale down and he was currently employing ten people.
The P.J.C manager said they had written a letter to the ministry of Trade and Industry requesting permission from them to import scrap aluminum products to keep their smelting business working.
Over the weekend the company exported a container containing 14, 300 kilograms of aluminum lead and electronic waste under the watchful eye of the police from the Ross Road Police station.
This was confirmed by ASP Patrick Betts who said they had intelligence report that PJC was exporting scrap metal out of the country.
He said they swiftly went to the quay together with NRA officials and they inspected the consignment and confirmed that the container was indeed aluminum.
“People do not want to see progress; they want to export unfinished goods and that is not making any impact on the economy of the country,” said Patrick.
He appealed to the government to revisit the ban on scrap metals and see what modifications they would make so that clean business men like themselves who did not touch copper and metals could go on with their business and create the needed impact on the economy of the country. By Mohamed Fofanah