In Burkina Faso, specifically in Ouagadougou, the car scrap sector and the sale of scrap metal are sources of income and employment. Many Burkinabè lead the field even when they are in the shadows, just like the activity itself.
Sylvestre Kaboré was a boy in his twenties where life had not given him a gift. Unlike children his age, his education was disrupted due to lack of financial means from his parents. To meet her needs and help her mother as much as she could to cope with family expenses, she decided to enter the informal sector. He cut his teeth in the “dead iron” trade.
At the time, he was only 15 years old. But the task is still not as simple as this young dealer thought. Walking from 5 am, we will accompany him at 7 am to the Rimkièta district where he does his business. On the spot, our eye is quickly attracted by a pile of scrap metal consisting, among other things, of bicycle and motorcycle frames, metal plates or empty cans.
- Sylvestre Kabore
Mr. Ouédraogo was the first to manage the area. The boss gives him every morning an amount of between 10,000 and 15,000 CFA francs as working capital, to be paid in the evening. Equipped with a cart, the latter roams the city’s garages and depots, often under the blazing sun, to buy and resell his collection. He doesn’t come home until nightfall. His daily income varies depending on the market.
On good days, he could pocket 50,000 CFA francs a day. “In my recipe for the day, I deduct the amount borrowed from my boss,” he confesses to us. Thanks to his savings, Mr. Kaboré engages in other activities at the same time, including gardening, which brings him complete pleasure.
Like him, there are many young people, adults and seniors, who engage in similar activities. Among them, Alboul Nikiéma. For nearly ten years, he and his siblings continued their late father’s work in the Kout-yaar (iron market), a vast market that stretched from the Larlé district to the nearby Rimkièta district. We traveled around to better solve the mystery. When we arrived, we were greeted by a strong smell of rust coming from piles of steel placed everywhere. While everyone was busy cutting large steel with a chisel, Mr. Nikièma was in the middle of talking to a customer on the phone. At this time of year, the market is not favorable due to the security crisis but also other uncertainties.
- For Alboul Nikiéma his activities are slowing down
Speaking about his method of supply, this scrap metal operator said he has a well-stocked address book. These suppliers are usually made up of young resellers. He also takes his belongings from other people, especially acquaintances. Not far from there (Editor’s note, you still have to make a big detour to get there), Adama Zongo specializes in car scraping and selling car wheel axles.
As part of his business, the latter buys trucks from local garages. “We dismantled the vehicles to extract all the parts that were in good condition that could be reused for retail sale. Even non-recoverable parts, ”he explained. This tedious task involves several people.
Married with three children, Mr. looks comfortable. Zongo in his work. When luck smiles on him, he can get a decent sum of 200,000 to 250,000 CFA francs a day. The market is certainly buoyant, but volatile, according to Boureima Porgo, another car breakdown specialist. “You can win or you can lose. I have already bought a car for 1 million CFA francs and resold the parts for 500,000 CFA francs or less ”, he recalled.
- According to Adama Zongo, her business brings her pleasure
In the field of vehicle scrap, unlike heavy parts, it is easier to sell scrap metal even if the price does not always meet the expectations of the players in the sector. “The ton of scrap amounts to 190,000 CFA francs. However, a car is not just made of steel ”, maintained Mr. Porgo. Despite this difficulty, he said he was doing well, he was employing a dozen people. This number may increase depending on the market.
Cave of thieves?
The vast business area has a bad reputation as a lodge for thieves. The local residents we approached also complained about the deafening noise and the unclean ground. Previously, municipal authorities (during the time of mayor Simon Compaoré, Editor’s note) took steps to clean up and secure the Larlé and Rimkièta districts, anarchy occupied by car breakers and scrap metal. that worker. In this dynamic, a site was allotted to them in Bissighin, at the northern exit of the city of Ouagadougou, so that they could conduct their business peacefully.
If there are people who have built there to park damaged vehicles or sold their space, we can count on your fingers the investors in the area to carry out their activities. To some people, there is Ladji Abdoul Rasmané Ouédraogo known under the pseudonym of Rasmane Koutou (iron in the Mooré language).
- Check out the site of players in the sector
The latter, who says he was the first to live, arrived on May 4, 2007, more than a year after the land was allotted. Without wood language, it will reconsider the events that led to it on this site. “I work as a car scrapper in Kout-yaar. Following the complaints of the natives to the municipal authorities, we took steps so that the town hall could find another plot. Thank God it was done,” he confesses at the beginning of his statements.
However, life in this part of Ouagadougou is not easy, as there are so many difficulties: bad road conditions, water and electricity problems. Not to mention insecurity. In addition to these shortcomings mentioned on the ground, old Rasmane Koutou also points out the lack of a health center. However, in the field of car scraping, incidents are not prevented. “We also don’t have documents proving that this and that part of the site is owned by an individual,” he denounced.
- Rasmane Koutou challenges the authorities
This situation can have disastrous consequences if nothing is done to remedy it. The administration as a continuation, the sexagenarian wants the new authorities to be able to look into their case. Alone at first, he already had a new neighbor, Didier Guissou. The big mechanic of this car moved there just two months ago. He regrets the lack of customers. However, this does not weaken him, because, he says, all work involves trials.
Scrap metal workers want to export their goods
In the past, scrap metal was exported to countries such as Ghana and Togo. In 2019, the government decided to suspend steel exports to support the development of foundry industries in Burkina, by ensuring the availability of scrap metal at the national level. This restriction has caused and continues to cause dissatisfaction.
- According to the president of the national union of scrap metal traders in Burkina, Mohamed Dakouo, Burkina has approximately 300,000 scrap metal workers.
“In the scrap we buy, there is steel, cast iron and light scrap. CIM-METAL only works on lightweight scrap which represents only 20% of our goods. We are not against the scrap metal processing industry, but we just want to give authorization to export scrap metal that it does not need ”, pleaded the president of the National Union of Burkina Scrap Metal Traders (SNCFB), Mohamed Dakuo.
In addition to this hiccup, environmental control is also irritating scrap sellers. To work for the free movement of goods, steps were taken together with the ministries in charge of trade, environment and finance. Promises were made to this effect. “The authorities promised us to issue an order.
- Our services are at a lower cost, according to the head of the pollution and nuisance prevention department at DGPE, Anselme Somé
Unfortunately, since December and until now, no one has obtained any document allowing them to export the scrap. Prior to that, in order to have a favorable opinion from the Ministry of Environment within the framework of our activity, it was necessary to clear at least 800,000 CFA francs. An amount that not all scrap sellers can reach, ”offended the SNCFB president. However, in addition to feeding his people, the sector is a job provider, according to him.
We approached the General Directorate for Environmental Protection (DGPE) to verify Mr. Dako’s statements related to the costs of issuing authorization to collect, store, deliver, treat and recover waste.
The head of the pollution and nuisance prevention department at DGPE, Anselme Somé, opened her office with us. In question, he clarified things: “All the promoter pays to DGPE is fifteen thousand CFA francs for secretarial expenses.
Then, he will pay the cost of the investigation mission or the control mission when it is a renewal of authorization. The cost of the fact-finding mission in Ouagadougou is estimated at 40,000 CFA francs. Outside Ouaga, travel costs are reduced as follows: 27,000 per day (three agents in total) and 2,000 francs per day for the driver ”.
Permission for the collection, storage, transportation, treatment and recovery of waste is made based on article 53 of the environmental code of Burkina Faso which stipulates that any structure must have the authorization of the Ministry of the environment.
In this sense, the promoter submits a file that includes a stamped request addressed to the DGPE, a copy of the trade register and personal credit of the property, a feasibility or environmental compliance order, a favorable opinion from local authorities, and a description of the hazardous solid waste management process.
Aïssata Laure G. Sidibé