Research Paper on Scrap Metal Trade in Jamaica

Published: 2021-09-15 14:25:09
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Category: Trade, Metal

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Introduction The scrap metal trade is a very controversial topic in Jamaica in recent times. Outside of registered dealers/traders, the industry has garnered interests from many others as it has become a way of life for providing quick income for households. Although the trade started out as a livelihood for these persons the paradigm has shifted and now stems more negatives than positives as unscrupulous persons has used it as an avenue to participate in illegal activities that resulted in the government (Dr.
Christopher Tufton – Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce at the time) instituting an indefinite ban on the Scrap Metal trade in Jamaica in July of 2011. Jamaica has had a number of reported cases of theft of valuable equipment and infrastructure over the last four years amounting to approximately $1 billion (Barrett, 2011). It is for this reason many argue this industry is doing us more harm than good. Scrap Metal theft however is not exclusive to Jamaica; it is a global concern and has been for the past 10 years.
Kooi (2010) articulates that the rise in Scrap metal theft is driven by offenders’ recognition that ample metal supplies remain unguarded and that the price of return remains historically high based on heavy international demand. The market conditions made unsecured metal susceptible to increased theft, while causing a boom in scrap metal exports that increased the scrap metal theft problem. It is evident that the scrap metal trade offered both positives and negatives to our country’s economy.

It has provided job opportunities to many youths and has given them a sense of achievement as the income allows them to positively contribute to society and their families. It has also been the largest contributor in earnings to the export section “Crude Materials” for many years (STATIN, 2012). There has been some discourse from the new Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Andrew Hylton on reopening the trade with tough new regulations. This is controversial as the industry is earning less than the losses associated with it.
This research seeks to address the questions: 1) What is the public’s sentiment on this controversial issue being faced by our country? 2) How great an effect does legislation have on illegal trading of Scrap Metal presently? 3) Does the problem exist in enforcement of the legislation in place for the Scrap Metal Industry? 4) What punishment measures are in place presently and do they differ from what Jamaican people want in place for Scrap Metal Theft? Statement of the problem:
There has been a tremendous level of theft of infrastructure reported from private companies being traded illegally. The focal point of this research is to explore the influence of legislation, enforcement (or lack thereof) of this legislation and punishment measures on illegal trading of Scrap Metal. Significance of the study: The contribution of the Scrap Metal trade to Jamaica’s earnings is significant, however the losses from theft and illegal trading supersedes its gains. It’s been over a year since the ban was instituted on the Scrap Metal trade and many are still suffering.
The placard of a protester (someone who used to have a livelihood from collecting scrap metal) in Riverton Meadows last November read “When we have no work our kids are robbed of their future” (Jamaica Observer, November 9 2011). It’s hard not to be concerned about the future of our children. But it is also hard to see the detriment this is causing our nation “Bridges? Water Pipes? Telephone cables? Railway lines? Gates? Road Signs? Not even the dead are spared as these worthless scavengers dig up graves in order to rob the coffins of metal handles. (Editorial - Jamaica Observer July 28 2011, para. 2). As a developing nation, we need to foster growth in all our sectors but at the same time we need to be operating in public interest and for the good of the whole instead of only in the interest of particulars. Hence, in order to act in support of the livelihoods of our people and protect our infrastructure, while fostering growth within the Scrap Metal trade sector, it is adamant that studies like this are done to look at reducing illegal trading. Research Question:
What protocol can be established to minimize illegal trading in the Scrap Metal Industry of Jamaica? General Research Objective: To determine the extent to which legislation, enforcement of the legislation and punishment measures may influence illegal trading of Scrap Metal in Jamaica. Other Objectives: * To generate a public poll on this controversial issue being faced by our country. * To investigate how great an effect legislation has on illegal trading of Scrap Metal. * To examine if the problem exists in enforcement of the legislation in place for the Scrap Metal Industry. To determine what punishment measures the Jamaican people want in place for Scrap Metal Theft. General Research Hypothesis: Better legislation, enforcement and punishment measures will have a strong negative impact on illegal trading of Scrap Metal in Jamaica. Sub Hypotheses: The higher the level of legislation put in place for Scrap Metal Dealers, the lower the level of illegal trading. The higher the level of enforcement of the legislation in place for the Scrap Metal Industry, the lower the level of illegal trading.
The higher the level of punishment measures for Scrap Metal theft, the lower the level of illegal trading. Independent Variables Dependent Variable Illegal Trading Legislation Enforcement Punishment Measures Illegal Trading Legislation Enforcement Punishment Measures Literature Review This section contains a review of literature that is related to the concerns of this research paper as well as the conceptualisation of variables chosen.
The literature will provide a layout and critical analyses of what has already been researched in relation to the Scrap Metal Trade Industry here in Jamaica as well as abroad. It is our hope that the literature review will provide a broader perspective on this very pertinent issue being faced by our country today. According to the Ministry Paper Trade Regulations for the Scrap Metal Industry Italy experienced severe delays in the train system due to the theft of copper wires and a number of states across the United States have also been reporting theft of copper wires that support their commercial infrastructure.
This paper further states that the Caribbean countries Dominican Republic and Guyana have also experienced increased criminal activities related to scrap metal industry whereby Guyana is considering banning the export of the product altogether in an effort to stop the damage that it is causing the country’s infrastructure and other productive sectors. In recent years however, the problem has been a growing concern in Jamaica. “Prior to 2003, the scrap metal trade in Jamaica was more or less limited to a small domestic market and, consequently, the impact of scrap metal theft on other sectors was not significant”. CAPRI Policy Brief B122, January 2012 p. 4). However the article further stated that “A noticeable increase in scrap metal theft coincided with the sudden rise in scrap metal prices in 2003”, as there has been an increasing growth in the export market, increasing from US$13. 3 million in 2005 to US$99. 58 million in 2006. As a result, “ an interim response to the issue an Order, entitled “The Trade (Prohibition of Export) (Scrap Metal) Order 2007” was gazetted on October 31, 2007 to temporarily prohibit all exports of scrap metal until trade regulations are introduced.
The Order recognized shipments already “entered” for export into the Customs Department system up to October 30 th 2007. (Ministry Paper Trade Regulations for the Scrap Metal Industry) The Government has banned the multi-billion dollar scrap metal trade. Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Minister of Industry, announced the ban at a press conference Tuesday afternoon in July of 2011. Dr. Tufton said the ban came against the background of the widespread theft of metals over the past three years as well as the warnings to scrap metal dealers to implement measures to curb the illegal activities in the trade.
Jamaica and other countries to include different states in the United States of America recommended various policies to regulate the scrap metal trade and how to minimize illegal trading. The scrap metal trade in Jamaica does not require a copy of the seller identification be taken and kept on records by the purchasing of dealers. However the 2007 Wisconsin Act 64, requires scrap metal dealers to ask for identification and proof of ownership.
The Act further stated that “seller and deliver of metals must provide motor vehicle operator license, current photograph identification which includes the person’s full name, current address, date of birth and identification number”. The Caribbean Policy Research Institution at the University of the West Indies in Mona also support this act in its “10 steps to Scrap Metal Solution” as policy 3 require that a “copy of the seller’s identification be taken and kept on record by the purchasing dealer”, and pointed out that this would ensure that a paper trail is created for transaction at the origin.
Currently the Jamaica laws do not furnish a specific punishment for metal theft. However, the B. C. government is hoping to reduce metal theft, with new legislation that requires scrap metal dealers to report them to the police. Under the proposed law dealers will have to record the names and addresses of metal sellers and where the sellers got the material, and pass this information on to the police (Renzetti, London “The Globe and Mail”, July 2012). On the other hand responses in Kooi article recommended Offering reward money for tips on metal thieves.
This way Police, crime prevention organizations, or companies victimized by scrap metal theft can establish hotlines and offer reward money for tips about suspected scrap metal theft. (p 31) Methodology This section will present an overview of the methods that were employed in conducting this research. Research design, population and sampling as well as the instrumentation used for data collection will be the areas of discussion. Research Design Due to the nature of the research, descriptive research was undertaken.
It is felt by the researchers that this type of research was the most suitable for the topic under scrutiny. Our research is descriptive in the fact that we merely wish to observe the public’s sentiment on the issue as well as the reasons for the downfall of the scrap metal trade industry in Jamaica. The researchers do not intend to change the way Scrap Metal is traded; instead we have sought to obtain a general overview on the extent to which legislation, enforcement of the legislation and punishment measures may influence illegal trading of Scrap Metal in Jamaica.
Due to the short time frame that the research was done in, it took the characteristics of a cross sectional study which takes a snapshot of the population at a given time (August - September 2012). The researchers engaged in qualitative methods of gathering data, where questionnaires were administered, an interview was conducted and previous researches on the topic were utilized. Population & Sampling Non-probability sampling was applied to the research, specifically Judgemental/Purposive sampling.
Due to our research topic, the population being looked at was residents of Kingston, Jamaica who were perceived to be informed on the topic. Within that population our target groups were members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, employees of the Ministry of National Security, Truckers/Collectors of Scrap Metal and general working professionals (public sector workers, Physicians, Educators, members of the Research and Economic Programming Division of the Bank of Jamaica, Students and the Self-employed).
Our proposed target sample size was 100 persons, however, after 100 questionnaires were administered, only 86 questionnaires were returned. Some respondents failed to answer all questions on the instrument therefore for those questions not answered, (e. g. Questions 4, 9, & 10-12) their sample size was reduced by three, four and three respectively. Instrumentation for Data Collection Due to the nature of the research topic, qualitative research in the forms of questionnaires and an interview was used to collect data. The questionnaire consisted of twelve questions of both open-ended and closed-ended response formats.
There were only two open-ended response format questions (questions 1 and 9(partially) -please see appendix for a copy of the instrument). The closed-ended response format which the rest of instrument demonstrated provided fixed responses. These responses used mainly nominal ranking (e. g. Questions 1-6, 8-12) and also ordinal (e. g. Question 7). The questionnaire’s purpose was to adequately obtain the respondents’ opinions about the relationship between the independent and dependent variables outlined for this research.
The combination of questions all addressed concepts such as the public’s opinion on the ban placed on the Scrap Metal Industry, where they thought the weakest link in the trade was, rules and regulations in place and punishment measures for Scrap Metal theft . An interview was conducted with a Mr. Derrick Mitchell on Wednesday, September 05, 2012. Mr. Mitchell is a licensed dealer in Clarendon and operates Mitchell’s Scrap metal. This interview consisted of open-ended questions which gave him ample freedom in his responses (please see appendix for a copy of the questions asked).
In addition, electronic research as well as a thorough overview of this very current topic in the media was employed to aid in background information discussed in the literature review and throughout this paper. Findings and Discussion After giving some background to the topic of interest by reviewing relevant literature, providing the conceptualization and operational definitions of our variables, discussing how the sample was chosen and the instrumentation used to obtain data, this section will now look at our results from the interview conducted and questionnaires administered and returned. Interview Results
He stated that the government is responsible for closing down the trade and that there are poor regulations in the monitoring system. He also mentioned that the customs officers are not fully monitoring the containers as they often leave the container open over night that will attract the criminals to load on illegal metals or metals that they are not licensed to be traded. He mentioned that each dealer should have license that allows them to trade various types of metals but because of the theft if gets them into trouble as there containers will be found with metal that they should not be trading.
Mr. Mitchell mentioned that if the customs officers were caring out there duties properly they would detect the illegal metals before export. He recommends that instead of having one central site ( as is being proposed in the new regulations by Minister Andrew Hylton) that the government look at setting up regional sites as this may be more feasible for the rural traders. Transporting metal to the central site for checking will quickly become a costly burden for traders. Survey Results & Findings There were one hundred questionnaires administered and eighty-six returned.
Below are the results from the survey: Figure 1 below shows the public sentiment on the ban placed on the Industry which relates to question two of the questionnaire administered. It is evident why this issue is as controversial as it has been in recent times as the responses indicated almost a 50/50 split in opinion. 52% of respondents feel that the ban should not be lifted, while 48% feel it should be – one of this 48% exclaimed “We must recycle! Measures need to be put in place to protect the industry! ”
Figure 2 goes further to demonstrate how the public feels about the industry and who is to blame for the problems associated with it. This relates to question three of the questionnaire. Majority of the respondents believe the problem lies at the point of collection/scrap yards. Legislation Figure 3 relates to question eight of the questionnaire. It shows that 91% of the respondents think that Scrap Metal dealers should send a list of all metals purchased to the police in order to trace potentially stolen material. Figure 4 and 5 related to question eleven and twelve respectively.
The answers to these questions were directly related. 81% of the respondents think the ban should remain on copper since it is a high target metal for theft, however that same 81% also believed that allowing select dealers only in the trade of copper was a smart alternative. Enforcement Figure 6 (relating to question six on the questionnaire) and Figure 7 (relating to question seven of the questionnaire) is showing that 93% of the public believe that rules and regulations need improving, and almost all respondents think there are “too little” measures in place currently.
However, Punishment Measures Figure 8 shows the responses to question nine of the questionnaire. It alludes to how the public feels about Scrap Metal theft. Most respondents believed that being confined behind bars is the most appropriate punishment while at a close second was the punishment of paying a fine. This question also included an open-response format which allowed people to speak freely about their opinion on necessary punishment measures.
Some of these responses included: “Entity suffering from the theft should be compensated to replace item”, “Person should provide labour (with stipend)to whomever was affected at the cost of the stolen metals”, “Standard meaningful fee for all, a thief is a thief – big or small! ” and “Hard Labour Community service”. There were also suggestions of “Death Penalty” and “Life in Prison”, which indicate that people need the punishment measures for scrap metal theft to have some power of intimidation for these thieves.
Conclusion (Answers to our sub research questions below) 1)What is the public’s sentiment on this controversial issue being faced by our country? 2)How great an effect does legislation have on illegal trading of Scrap Metal presently? 3)Does the problem exist in enforcement of the legislation in place for the Scrap Metal Industry? 4)What punishment measures are in place presently and do they differ from what Jamaican people want in place for Scrap Metal Theft?

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