SPANNING centuries, scrap dealing has been the source of livelihood for many of our youth from the northern regions; it is also considered to be the life-wire of most school-leavers who throng the cosmopolitan cities of the country to fight for non-existing jobs. They hope to return to the north with enough money to continue schooling after engaging in the business but unfortunately they give up their dreams after making it ‘big’ through the sale of scraps.

ACCORDING to Wikipedia, “the scrap industry contributed $65 billion to the US economy in 2006 and is one of the few contributing positively to the US balance of trade, exporting $15.7 billion in scrap commodities in 2006.” A similar scenario can be cited in Ghana where metal workers in the country contribute substantially to the country’s economy.

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A research conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency concludes that recycling scrap metals can be quite beneficial to the environment. Using recycled scrap metal in place of virgin iron ore can bring about positive dividends in many ways: 75% savings in energy; 90% savings in raw materials used; 86% reduction in air pollution; 40% reduction in water use; 76% reduction in water pollution, and; 97% reduction in mining wastes.

DESPITE these advantages of scrap dealing, Ghanaians do not seem to be much interested in the whole issue of scrap dealing mostly because not many Ghanaians are engaged in that sector of the economy. To a greater number of Ghanaians, metal dealers are only a nuisance to the environment and environmentalists opine that they are increasing contributors to pollution in the country.

INDEED,   the Daily Graphic reports of how scrap dealers in Accra are contributing substantially to the pollution of the Odaw River in the capital. Their activities are contributing to the fast decline of the environment as the electronic waste burnt around the river is also a major contributing factor to air pollution.

TO the ordinary driver on the street of the capital, scrap dealers are just part of the accidents on the highways as they easily crush their trucks to oncoming vehicles or smash the sides of saloon cars. Residents also think of scrap boys as just part of thieves and planners of major armed robberies against residents as they survey areas in the absence of many people.

ALL in all, scrap dealing like most jobs in the country has its ups and downs, but in the case of Ghana, unlike the US, scrap dealing is causing more harm than good. Apart from the effects listed above, the increasing number of scrap dealers in the country is also causing a great drain on the education sector in the north.

MOST children of school-going age in the north would prefer to come to the south to engage in this activity other than schooling because their fellows who swarm the capital to take advantage of the trade always “return with lots of goodies.”  And in solving the problem of the influx of Kayayeis (porters) to the south, the issue of scrap dealing must also be looked at.

TODAY is of the view that the trade can be supported by the government with limits on the control of private entrepreneurs; laws can also be made to regulate the industry as well as enlist scrap dealing companies in the country for effective taxation. It is through this that Ghana can easily access the contribution of the industry to the economy of Ghana.

THE Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and other metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies must also enforce by-laws regulating the activities of scrap dealers or the complaints about problems with scrap dealers would never end.

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