BBC Panorama's episode "Track My Trash" has been given the dubious credit for a role in sentencing Joe "Hurricane" Benson, Mark Daniels, and Ezenwa Ogbonnaya for alleged "ewaste" dumping in Africa. Rowe seems pleased enough when we exchanged tweets.
Another BBC reporter, David Reid, went back and gave some "fresh" reporting in 2014. I'm being very, very sarcastic. Reid flew into Accra airport, got himself a hotel room, and a 9 minute taxi ride later surrounded himself, cough coughing, with young men hitting metal with hammers and burning auto wire. About 80 scrappers work at Agbogbloshie, mostly in car recycling, but Reid heads to the tire fires where 25 or so young men stand about burning about 200 kg per day of wire.
"Making a Living from Toxic Electronic Waste in Ghana"
Gotta love that title... journalists and photo journalists certainly are making a living off of the witch hunts of Agbogbloshie.
Reid stands at the same bank I stood at, where no cars or trucks have access - only wheelbarrows and pushcarts. And then he goes to Tema Port an hours drive away and films Africa's Tech Sector workers, Africa's "Big Bang Theory" importers unloading a container (like the ones shipped by Daniels, Benson, Ogbayanna, etc.)... the goods being unloaded are clearly a decade newer than the stuff hammered in Agbogbloshie, but Reid can't see that. He just sees black people. He's not making the distinction between the African valedictorian Tech Sector Big Bang Theory superheroes and the toxic wire burning guys at Agbogbloshie.
He asks how much the technicians think will work, and the tech shrugs and says "99 percent". Reid scoffs. It's like he's talking to one of the illiterate drop outs at Agbogbloshie. He snickers and asks "how big is the one percent?"
Because that's the story he came to tell, that the guys in Agbogbloshie are burning England's e-waste. And he's standing right with an imported load which was paid for at several times the value of scrap, plus transport and customs fees and transport. He is looking at a truck that is not driving to Agbogbloshie and could not drive inside if it did. And he's mocking the black guy.
The narrative of Halloween language and images of scary black people is something BBC is obsessed with, despite the HOUSE OF COMMONS openly admitting that only 19% of containers have ANY illegal material in them at all, and that the UK's priortity is to keep "strategic" metals for Big Shred.
Oh, did you miss that? Read more... lots of research has turned up during writing of our report on Agbogbloshie.
Now I'm sure Mr. Reid's a nice man, and he probably thought he was doing a good thing by keeping the pressure on those nasty exporters, cartoon men with $ symbols on their top hats (Story of Stuff).
Come on David... you have reported on women using Tech to protect themselves in India. You've even reported on African Techies (see sweet tweet... but the link is dead and I can't find it online).
I'm not a professional reporter like David Reid or Raphael Rowe. No one is paying me to research this stuff. Fair Trade Recycling is a non-profit that defends Geeks of Color, Africa's IFIXIT guys, from racist propaganda... and on my own I'm finding evidence everywhere. It is right in front of Reid's face. The BAN.org has abandoned the data claims. There is a junkyard in Accra and it has junk in it, and the soil is very contaminated... but the UK can lock up a hundred Joe Bensons for 40 years and it won't do a damn thing to help the school drop outs and orphans who collect metal in wheelbarrows from Ghana's capital.
Proof? Here's documentation of the Daniels Recycling load, with pictures, so you can see how Africans in the UK load the containers Reid and Rowe are talking about.
Here is story with links to a bill of lading (E-Scrap News), with links to receipts for each item in the export container showing payment of about 20 times scrap value, FOB England, and photos of the container being filled (courtesy of Daniels Recycling) and the same goods after UK agents "inspected" them by pulling them out like scrap. This was also caught on film in the BBC Panorama episode (long version of Raphael Rowe's visit to Ghana).
@areporter frames from Mike Anane framing #freejoebenson. 91% reuse and repair, 100% legal. Rowe film put Joe in jail pic.twitter.com/NnNDmDZlDk— Robin Ingenthron (@WR3A) August 13, 2015
And MOST IMPORTANTLY...
HERE is the link to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report and testimony on the exports... which clearly indicate there is NO concern about African reuse (or lack thereof) but a strong desire to keep metals in England.
David Reid, Raphael Row, Mike Anane, Jim Puckett, and Greenpeace are pawns in a chess game being played waaaay over their heads. Benson, Daniels, Ogbayanna and others are the sacrifice.
The committee knew, or should have known, about the 2009 SBC funded study above. And the Science and Technology committee could have said something when BBC sent reporters on the Witch Hunt, led by Mike Anane the Child Catcher. And the longer this festers, the more this American Fair Trade Recycling blogger is going to dig and find their tracks.
The choice Daniels, Benson, Ogbannoya and others are making is NOT between SWEEP and Agbogbloshie. It is between shredding and reuse.
Because which is more primitive?
Making the choice which makes Africa's Tech Sector more wealthy is the best way to reduce tire burning. That may make it harder for journalists in the UK to Make a Living off of Toxic Exports.