The thriving ‘scrap’ business in Muscat

MUSCAT, June 30 – While the sale of scrap is becoming a lucrative business, metal theft is also increasing proportionately. “The business doesn’t have proper scrutiny. Scrap shops are mushrooming, so is the theft of metals and cables,” said the owner of a building materials business in Ruwi. Very often, the shop owners do not lodge a complaint as the quantity of material stolen from each shop is minimal. “But for the scrap pickers, when they steal metals and cables in bits and pieces from different places, they become a large quantity,” said Rafeeq Mohamed, a shopkeeper.
Construction sites are the worst-hit as many materials are kept in the open.
“A lot of materials, including cables with copper pipes, along with pieces of iron and steel, vanish from our sites. We know this is done by scrap pickers,” said a site engineer of a leading construction firm.
They also target closed houses for lifting wiring and piping materials.
When pointed out, an ROP official said most of the stolen scrap materials are sold to the middlemen or to vehicles that go around the city collecting scrap.
“Although the law is very clear that an ROP clearance certificate is mandatory for the sale and purchase of scrap, many a times the stolen material is sold to the dealer through middlemen,” said the official.
According to him, the law stipulates that no deal should be made in forbidden goods. Also it mandates to show the source, if it is received through auction or any other sale deal. Even if one buys such scrap, it cannot be further sold or exported without proper documents.
Ansari, who collects scrap material and sells them to shops in Ghala, told Observer that he is not aware of any regulations.
“What is required to sell the scrap at these shops is the proof of my ID. Most days I sell a small truckload of material. I am getting good money,” he said.
Ansari, who has an Omani driver to transport the material, also employs expat workers for picking scrap from different corners of the city.
“It’s high time that stringent laws are introduced to thoroughly document all transactions made by the scrap shop owners and identify everyone from whom they purchase metal,” opined a senior member at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

SAMUEL KUTTY