By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
MEMBER representing Ibesikpo Asutan state constituency in Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Mr. Aniekan Uko has sought the support and speedy passage of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill into law.
Uko, and lead sponsor of the bill while leading debate on the bill during yesterday plenary argued that among other things check the activities of criminal elements who disguise themselves as scrap metal dealers in the state.
He further argued that besides the fact that 60 per of petty crimes and theft in the state were traceable to the activities of scrap metal dealers, that it would also check herdsmen encroachment especially as the dealers are mostly are non indigenes.
He stated, “Mr. Speaker and Honourable Colleagues, you will all agree with me that scrap metal business has been heavily tainted with controversies and scandals. Most of these scandals assume criminal colouration with the involvement of law enforcement agents.
“Mr. Speaker and Honourable Colleagues, we are no strange to at least one story involving the theft of private properties by scrap metal collectors. Too often than not, stolen properties have been traced to scrap metal dealers.
“Starting from the collectors in the streets to the manager of a dump site, there is an intricate web of shady transactions that is clothe in criminal apparels. Generators, bicycles, car batteries and parts, signposts, government trash bins and even cooking pots have been disappearing at alarming rates.
‘The situation is so bad that scrap metal dumpsites are now the first ports of call for missing items. There is need for urgent legislative action”
The lawmaker noted that the main thrust of the Bill is to establish a regulatory framework for scrap metal business, adding that it also provides for a workable platform for government through the State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency to intervene in the business with a view to bringing sanity to the sector.
Meanwhile few Lawmakers disagreed with Uko that the bill if passed into law would generate revenue for the state government, considering that such menial businesses hardly take care of the immediate needs of the dealers.
However, the bill which was co-sponsored by other Nine state lawmakers scaled through second reading.
In his brief remarks the Speaker, Mr. Aniekan Bassey commended his colleagues for their various contributions to the bill and directed that it should be committed to the House Committee on Environment for in-depth study and report back to the House within the period of one month.