SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The recently imposed six-month temporary ban on scrap metal exports by the South African government is likely to have little impact on rising theft incidents. Rather, it is considered as admission of the government’s and law enforcement agency’s inability to curb illegal acts by syndicates.
Many consider the six-month ban as a misguided effort. The official statistics are quite contrary to government’s claims that scrap metal export ban could reduce the act of stealing. The data suggests that only about 13% of the scrap metal collected by scrap metal recyclers are exported. Also, the scrap metal export volumes have been on a decline during the past several years, at a time when cable theft volumes have recorded significant surge.
The above data suggests that only a small portion of scrap are exported through legitimate routes. Thus, imposing ban on exports is unlikely to work.
Meantime, the industry participants welcomed other proposed measures such as abolition of cash trade in scrap and semi-finished products as well as stricter customs inspections, saying that they could possibly thwart theft incidents.
Incidentally, several state-owned agencies such as Transnet and Eskom have reported exponential rise in volumes of stolen infrastructure. The thefts have escalated over the past five-year period, the officials noted.