SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomed the proposal by the country’s government to extend the temporary ban on exports of various scrap metals and related measures aimed at preventing theft of cables from public infrastructure.
The trade union federation noted that rising theft incidents involving cables is crippling Eskom, Transnet, Metro Rail and other critical infrastructure. It supported the proposed nine-month extension of the ban. At the same time, it noted that nine-month extension may not be sufficient and that by extending it for another 18 months, the government may get sufficient time to crack down on scrap metal thieves and criminal syndicates involved in such criminal activities.
Vandalism of public infrastructure is estimated to result in economic loss of around R47 billion every year. In 2021 alone, such acts cost Transnet nearly R2 billion. Nearly 742 kilometres of cables were stolen from Eskom’s infrastructure during that year. Also, cable theft at Metro Rail had led to death of three commuters in Pretoria in 2019.
Alongside ban extension, the government needs to implement mandatory registration of scrap metal dealers with the state and SARS and stricter metal trading licensing mechanism, which will make trading of stolen cables difficult.
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