Car junk and scrap metal sales: A thriving business in Ouagadougou

In Burkina Faso, especially in Ouagadougou, the car scrapping sector and the sale of scrap metal are a source of income and employment. There are many Burkinabè that excel in the field even though they are in the shade, just like the activity itself.

Sylvestre Kaboré is a young boy in his twenties whose life has not given him a gift. Unlike children his age, his schooling was shortened due to lack of financial resources from his parents. To meet his needs and help his mother as best he can to bear the family expenses, he decides 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 had imagined. On foot since kl. 05.00 we join him at. 7.00 in the Rimkièta district, where he runs his business. On the spot, our eye is quickly attracted to a pile of scrap metal, which among other things consists of bicycle and motorcycle frames, metal plates or empty cans.

Sylvestre Kabore

Mr. Ouédraogo is the first person in charge of the premises. The boss gives him every morning an amount of between 10,000 and 15,000 CFA francs as working capital to be repaid in the evening. Equipped with a cart, the latter walks around the city’s garages and depots, often under a scorching sun, to buy and resell his collection. He only comes home again at night. His daily winnings vary depending on the market.

On good days, he can pocket the sum of 50,000 CFA francs a day. “On my recipe for the day, I deduct the amount borrowed from my boss,” he confides to us. Thanks to his savings, Mr. Kaboré performs other activities at the same time, including gardening, giving him full satisfaction.

Like him, there are many young people, adults and the elderly who engage in similar activities. Among the Alboul Nikiéma. For about ten years, he and his brothers have immortalized the work of their late father in Kout-yaar (iron market), a large market stretching from the Larlé district to the nearby Rimkièta. We took a trip to better solve the mystery. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a strong smell of rust coming from the iron heaps everywhere. While everyone is busy cutting large iron bars with a chisel, Mr Nikièma is in the middle of a discussion with a customer on the phone. At this time of year, the market is not favorably given the security crisis but also other uncertainties.

For Alboul Nikiéma, his activities are declining

When we talk about his delivery method, this scrap operator says he has a well-stocked address book. These suppliers are mostly made up of young dealers. He also gets his supplies from other people, especially acquaintances. Not far from there (editor’s remark, you still have to make a big detour to get there), Adama Zongo specializes in car scrapping and vehicle wheel axle sales.

As part of its business, the latter buys trucks from local workshops. “We are dismantling the vehicles to extract all the parts in good condition that can be recycled to sell them in the retail trade. As well as non-recoverable parts,” he explains. This tedious work involves several people.

Married and having three children, Mr Zongo seems to be thriving with his job. When luck smiles on him, he can end up with the neat sum of 200,000 to 250,000 CFA francs in one day. The market is certainly lively but volatile, according to Boureima Porgo, another specialist in car breakdowns. “You can win or you can lose. I have already bought a vehicle for 1 million CFA francs and resold the parts for 500,000 CFA francs or even less,” he recalls.

According to Adama Zongo, his business brings him satisfaction

In the field of car scrapping, the sale of scrap metal, unlike heavy parts, is easier, although the price does not always live up to the expectations of the players in the sector. “A ton of scrap amounts to 190,000 CFA francs. But a vehicle is not just made of iron,” Mr Porgo maintains. Despite this difficulty, he says he’s fine, he employs a dozen people. increase depending on the market.

A cave of twenty?

This huge business place has a bad reputation as a cottage for thieves. The locals we approached also complained about the deafening noises and the unhygienic grounds. Earlier, the municipal authorities (in the time of Mayor Simon Compaoré, editor’s note) had taken measures to clean up and secure the Larlé and Rimkièta districts, anarchically occupied by car wreckers and scrap workers. In this dynamic, a place has been assigned to them in Bissighin, at the northern exit of the city of Ouagadougou, so that they can carry out their business calmly.

If some people have built there to park car wrecks or have sold their space, we can count at hand those who have invested instead of carrying out their activities. Among the few people there is Ladji Abdoul Rasmané Ouédraogo known under the pseudonym Rasmane Koutou (iron in the Moore language).

Viewing the site for players in the sector

The latter, claiming to be the first resident, arrived on May 4, 2007, more than a year after the land was allotted. Without wooden language, it reconsiders the circumstances that led it to this page. “I worked as a car wrecker in Kout-yaar. Following the complaints of the natives to the municipal authorities, we have taken steps to ensure that the town hall finds us a different setting. Thank God it was done, ”he confides at the beginning of his remarks.

However, life in this part of Ouagadougou is not easy as there are so many difficulties: poor road conditions, water and electricity problems. Not to mention uncertainty. In addition to these deficiencies found at the site, the old Rasmane Koutou is also pointing the finger at the absence of a health center. But in car scrapping, incidents do not prevent. “We also do not have a document confirming that such and such part of the site belongs to a person,” he condemns.

Rasmane Koutou challenges the authorities

This situation can have harmful consequences if nothing is done to remedy it. Since the administration is a continuity, the sexager wants the new authorities to be able to look at their case. Alone in the beginning, he has now got a new neighbor, Didier Guissou. This great car mechanic moved there just two months ago. He’s sad about the lack of customers. However, this does not deter him, because, he says, all work involves trials.

Scrap 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 the export of iron to support the development of the foundry industry in Burkina by ensuring the availability of scrap metal at the national level. This limitation has caused and continues to cause dissatisfaction.

According to the president of the National Union of Scrap Traders in Burkina, Mohamed Dakouo, Burkina has about 300,000 scrap workers.

“In the scrap we buy, there is steel, cast iron and light scrap. CIM-METAL only works with light scrap, which only makes up 20% of our goods. We are not against the scrap processing industry, but we will simply have permission to export the scrap that it does not require, ”argues the president of the National Union of Burkina Scrap Metal Traders (SNCFB), Mohamed Dakuo.

In addition to this hiccup, environmental control also irritates scrap dealers. In order to work for the free movement of goods, steps had been taken with the ministries responsible for trade, the environment and finance. A commitment had been made. “The authorities had promised us that an order would be given.

Our services are at a lower price, according to the head of the department for pollution prevention and nuisance at DGPE, Anselme Somé

Unfortunately, since December and until today, no one has been able to obtain any document that allows them to export the scrap. In order to obtain a positive opinion from the Ministry of the Environment within the framework of our activity, it is necessary to clear at least 800,000 CFA francs in advance. A sum that is not within the reach of all scrap dealers, ”insulted the president of the SNCFB. But in addition to feeding his husband, the sector, according to him, is a provider of jobs.

We turned to the Directorate-General for Environmental Protection (DGPE) to verify Mr Dako’s statements on the cost of issuing the permit to collect, store, transport, treat and recover waste.

The head of the pollution and nuisance prevention department at DGPE, Anselme Somé, opened his office for us. When asked, he clarifies things: “All the promoter pays to DGPE is fifteen thousand CFA francs for secretarial expenses.

He then pays the cost of the investigation mission or control mission when it is a renewal of authorization. The cost of the investigation mission to Ouagadougou is estimated at 40,000 CFA francs. Outside Ouaga, travel costs are distributed as follows: 27,000 per. day (three agents in total) and 2,000 francs per. day for the driver “.

Approval for the collection, storage, transport, treatment and recovery of waste is based on Article 53 of the Burkina Faso Environmental Law, which stipulates that any structure must have a permit from the Ministry of the Environment.

In this sense, the promoter submits a file which includes a stamped request addressed to the DGPE, a copy of the commercial register and credit for personal property, a feasibility or environmental legislation, a positive opinion from the local authority and a description of the hazardous solid waste management process.

Aïssata Laure G. Sidibé

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