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Scrap is still smuggled across the border

10:42 | 27/10/2016

VCN- Although it is not as "hot" as items like tobaccoor crystallized sugar,at the Southern border, tradingand illegal transportactivities of waste material across borders are still taking place quite often.

scrap is still smuggled across the border
Illegally imported scrap iron foundby the Customs Department of KienGiang. Photo: D.N.

This is found to seriously affectthe environment, and addressing the problem is difficult because the perpetratorsoften use very sophisticated operations, so the handling is still very cumbersome.

Late last September, the Police forces of TayNinh province arrested five motorcycles shipping scrap plastic beads at the Tan TienHamlet, Tan Lap Commune, Tan Bien District, TayNinh province when the vehicle wasgathering at the scrap warehouse of the T.H business establishment for loading onto trucks and preparingto come to HCMC. Through inspection, the police forces detained 140 bags of scrap plastic beads. The owner is Ms. Le Thi Hue who has confessedthescrapsiswithout legal documents, purchased from smugglersfrom Cambodia to Vietnam to sell to some people in HCMC.

According to the authorities of TayNinh province, although scrap is not thekey smuggled items,but without measures to prevent, and arrest perpetrators effectively, the risk of environmental pollution is very high since when the scrap is successfullysmuggled across the border,it will be gathered at warehouses in residential areas. Thehazardous products made from thatscrap will effectthe health of consumers. theperpetrators organizeto collect and purchase fromsmugglerswho cross over from Cambodiato surreptitiously bring into Vietnam to sell for profit.

This activity happensatthe border of Ha Tien, KienGiang Province everydaywhen people cross the border to buy scrap by motorcycles, bicycles then "splitting" them before coming into Vietnam to sell to the collected facilities. At the mid of last October, reporters of theCustoms Newspapersaw many people carrying scrap metal to sell to the waste collection centresin the My Ducborder communeof Ha Tien province. They often split goods across two wings of the border gate where out of theCustoms operation area, so that the functional forces face many difficulties because of small and scattered activity, said Mr. Nguyen Van Chien, Vice-Director of the Ha TienCustoms Gate Department. Mr. Chien also said, his Department had proposed to the local government not providebusiness and operationlicenses for the scrap centresat the Ha Tien border area but this proposal seems to have fallen into silence. Currently, the My Duc border commune has more than 5 waste centresthat accepta lot of smuggled scrap from Cambodia each day. At a waste centreon the way to the river border, we saw scrap material overflowing to the road without shield and not ensuring environmental hygiene.

scrap is still smuggled across the border
A scrap warehouse overflowing to the road at the Ha Tien border. Photo: Đ.N.

In addition to the small and scattered transport methods, in Ha Tien border area, the smugglers of scrapoften use light trucksfromCambodia to transport the smuggled scrap at night. At the My Ducborder commune, Ha Tien town, Customs Control Team, KienGiang Customs Department arrested a light truck with Cambodian license plate No.3A-1219 moving from Cambodia to Vietnam transporting 9 tons of iron chippings at10pm when the Ha Tien border gate was closed as prescribed. The owner Ms. Nguyen ThiTham, living in Tan Hiep district, KienGiang province confessed that the scrap was purchased from Cambodia, transported to Vietnam to sell for profit, without legal billing documents. Then the Customs Control Team finedthe perpetrators, seized the exhibits, and forced to re-export the vehicles to Cambodia.

Also in An Giang, the most prominent case was the arrest of 32.4 tons of plastic scrap (plastic sheet and plastic scrap milling) and 17.6 tons of other scrap consisting of scrap plastic bottles and scrap pharmacy shells of the Vinh Hoi Dong Customs Gate Branch, An Giang Customs Department in the last 6 months. When arresting the smugglers of this scrapand on the road to escortthem to the Department headquartersfor questioning, Customs forces encountered opposition and provocationfrom the perpetrators trying to snatch the vehicles and exhibits. Then the Vinh Hoi Dong Customs Gate Branch consolidated records to transfer to the An Giang Customs Department and this Department has completed records andtransferredtothe An GiangProvincial People's Committee for handling under authority. Then, the Chairman of the An GiangProvincial People's Committee issued anadministrative sanctiondecision to fine Mr. Dang Minh Bang - the transporter 15 million vnd, for the illegal act of transporting goods across borders (scrap items). Also seized 32.4 tons of plastic scraps (plastic sheet and plastic scrap milling) and forced to destroy 17.6 tons of other scraps consisting of scrap plastic bottles and scrappharmacy shells.

The current scrap handling process is difficulbecause of the appraising process for the kinds of scrap,becausean illegal scrap shipment has a lot of items. Therefore, the determination of eligible items andunqualified items to decide to confiscate or destroy is unable cannot be fast. Additionally, destruction requires to be done in standard facilities, but in the southern provinces onlya few facilities are up to standard. For arecent case in An Giang, the An Giang Customs Department had to transportscrapfor destructionat the HolcimPlant in KienGiang. Processing time for a scrap case is quite long, the Customs office does not have a dedicated warehouse so during the handling time, Customs officials face storage problems at the workplace.

Although not a prominent issue, scrap is "sensitive"in the current environment, so Customs forces as well as the authorities are stepping up to control and detect to arrest smuggling scrap across the border. However, the handling of small and scatteredtransporting activities of residents and the collection at scrap centresin the border areas have yet to be solved, so that scrap is still sneaking across the border.

By Dang Nguyen/ HuuTuc