Livelihood of local scrap metal collectors threatened
PETALING JAYA: The livelihood of local scrap metal collectors has taken a hit after foreigners, especially refugees, dominated the sector illegally in the recent years.
These foreign collectors are often seen sifting through waste bins and rubbish piles searching for scrap metal pieces such as aluminium cans, copper wires and cardboard boxes in the Klang Valley.
They also buy scrap metal from residents, construction site workers and factory operators, offering slightly higher prices to undercut local collectors.
Moving around on sidecar motorcycles or bicycles, these foreigners do not have a licence, road tax and motor insurance.
Acting on a tip-off, The Star team – which went on an undercover mission in Kajang, where such activities are reported to be rife – spotted several foreigners on their collection rounds.
Upon approaching one – who claimed to be a Rohingya refugee – at Prima Saujana and asked if selling him the items would cause trouble, the man replied in Malay: “Can boss. I will pick it up from you and pay cash. Do not worry about the authorities, I will take care of that.”
Being very alert of his surroundings, the man scooted away on his sidecar motorcycle when the team tried to take a photograph of him, and within minutes, all the foreign collectors in the areas were nowhere to be seen.
After some driving around, the team spotted one foreigner speeding on his sidecar motorcycle and tailed him to a house in Taman Kajang Ria some 2km away. The foreigner parked his machine and swiftly entered the house before shutting all the doors and windows.
The gate of the double-storey home and another unit nearby were covered with canvas.
A peep inside showed heaps of grilles, aluminium cans and other metal pieces in the compound.
Resident Chan Choon Hee, 70, said a local scrap dealer would go to the two houses to collect the items every few days.
“The loading process is noisy and unbearable when they throw the metal pieces into the lorry.
“It is a nuisance and I hope the authorities will act on them,” he said.
Another resident, Lim Ah Kan, 69, who also complained about the noise, said the foreigners lived in deplorable conditions and are not concerned about keeping their compound clean.
A third resident said these foreigners worked very closely with one another.
“They have a WhatsApp group in which they alert one another if they spot heavy presence of police or other enforcement officers.
“Each collector has his own ‘zone’ and they do not encroach on that of the other, but they work closely and watch one another’s back,” he added.
On a private land nearby, there were some refrigerators, washing machines, bicycles and electrical items, which were said to be kept there by a foreign scrap metal collector.