More bite needed against illegal scrap metal dealers

Wednesday May 16, 2007

More bite needed against illegal scrap metal dealers

KUCHING: Sarawak wants the Federal Government to expand the Second Hand Dealers Act 1946 to cover the state to enable the authorities to act against illegal scrap metal dealers.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said this was one way to address rampant theft of telephone and power cables which have resulted in losses amounting to millions of ringgit.

SESCo has incurred losses of RM9.4mil over the past five years while Telekom lost RM5mil last year due to thefts of cables and copper wires, he said during question time.

Dr Chan said it was difficult to recover the items as thieves easily disposed off the stolen goods to scrap metal dealers.

He said 132 suspects were arrested in the state last year for cable thefts, adding that SESCo and Telekom had taken various proactive measures to curb such thefts.

These included conducting patrols and raids, installing remote control alarms, closed-circuit televison cameras, floodlights and infrared sensors at strategic locations.

Dr Chan said the police had also set up task force committees, comprising representatives from government-linked companies, telecommunication firms and land transport companies, to deal with cable thefts.

Later, the assembly approved the Land Use (Control of Prescribed Trading Activities) (Amendment) Bill 2007 to help the State Planning Authority better regulate the activities of traders who collect, store and convert used metal goods.

State Second Minister for Planning and Resource Management Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan tabled the bill.