They returned to the area, and removed tonnes of scrap iron to a secure location.
Refusing to reveal where the scrap iron was being taken, Defence Force officials told Newsday that it was being taken to a secure location where it was being searched by “other agencies with better equipment and resources.”
Responding to reports that illegal guns were being hidden amongst the scrap iron piles, officials said up to yesterday, no illegal weapons or ammunition had been found.
Asked how they intended to dispose of the scrap iron after it was searched, sources said “it was up to the Ministry of National Security to determine what happens to it, after it is searched.”
Denying that the move to rid the Beetham community of the unsightly scrap iron piles that posed an environmental hazard to both residents and daily commuters was politically motivated, Defence Force officials assured that they will be going into other communities across the country to carry out similar exercises as they assist in the fight against crime, during the state of emergency.
Officials said while the Beetham residents had been co-operating with the soldiers who had gone into the area since Sunday, some of the scrap iron dealers who wished to salvage some of their iron were allowed to do so after the items were thoroughly searched.
President Richards yesterday issued an order that the owner of the scrap metal seized will be adequately compensated, following proof of ownership.
Beetham resident and scrap iron dealer, Glenroy Hamlet said he awoke at about 5 am on Sunday to find soldiers clearing the piles of scrap iron that littered the Beetham Highway.
Arguing that the six scrap iron dealers from the Beetham community (himself included), had not been notified prior to the exercise to remove the scrap iron piles, Hamlet said under the previous regime, residents were usually given a seven-day notice to clean their premises, or that the authorities would take action.
Hamlet said this was not done this time, and he believes that Beetham residents were now being politically victimised.
Claiming that the 15 persons he employed were now left without jobs, Hamlet believed this latest move to prevent scrap iron dealers in Beetham from operating would have an impact on the crime situation as “people will now do what they have to do to survive.” Hamlet added that it was unfair to hard-working and honest residents from the area, who were fighting to earn an honest dollar when their livelihoods were taken away.
Asked what his next move will be as he struggles to provide for his family, Hamlet said it would take some time “to decide exactly where we will go from here.”
Defence Force officials said the clean-up operations will continue throughout the week at Beetham, and in response to calls by Beetham residents for the authorities to go to the Bamboo area to remove derelict vehicles and scrap iron, sources assured that similar exercises will be conducted across the country.