The Scrap Metal Bill 2022 was passed with amendments in the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday, after a marathon session which lasted late into the night.
Scrap Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson said his group had several issues with the bill, although he thanked the government for bringing it to Parliament.
He said the first of these issues was that the bill as passed meant people who worked in the landfill collecting scrap iron would no longer be able to do so.
“This is a serious issue that we need to address and attend.
"Another issue is that many dealers in the industry have houses behind their scrapyards, and some of them are squatting. So when the government is telling them they have to get Town and Country and EMA planning approval, it means they have to close their yards.
“The association was lobbying government to get lands for them, but they didn’t find it fit to grant them the lands, so 90 per cent of the dealers will not be able to operate, as the government doesn’t want anyone to have their house in a scrapyard.”
Ferguson said another measure he found especially harsh prohibited someone who had been convicted of certain crimes from applying from a licence.
“This business employs thousands of people who have run into problems with the law. We take them and they work with us, they buy vans and start collecting –and now whatever charges they have will be humbugging them and cause them not to be able to get a collector’s and/or dealer’s licence.”
The bill says a person who has been convicted of an indictable offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act or the Proceeds of Crime Act cannot apply for a licence, unless the conviction has been expunged under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Ferguson said a committee should have been appointed in the Trade and Industry Ministry to deal with granting licences, as making the minister the only person who can grant, renew, revoke, vary, and suspend licences would give the minister too much power. He said it would also slow down the granting of licences.
He said of the 25,000 people who made up the industry, 90 per cent are poor people, and the association will be rallying them to stand firm.