Officials at state-owned Heritage Petroleum have been accused of preventing the TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association from legitimately buying scrap metal from the company’s predecessor Petrotrin.
The association’s president Allan Ferguson told reporters during a news conference at Signature Hall, Longdenville on Thursday, they have been sidelined after investing heavily in a proposal for the materials.
Ferguson said they have been lobbying for the scrap metals since the closure of Petrotrin in 2018, but found that their efforts were betrayed when Heritage put out an advertisement inviting the public to bid for the sale of scrap metals.
He said they sought international investments to acquire the necessary equipment to properly purchase and deal with Petrotrin’s scrap metal.
“We got loans from outside of Trinidad, almost $15 million, to purchase the equipment to use the materials how they are supposed to be used, so that this country gains more money.”
After a Point Fortin site visit and bid process on Wednesday, he said the association believes it is deliberately being prevented from buying the materials.
“They want to take this industry from us. If we do not get Petrotrin material, this industry will close. With the type of people at the visit, I could have sworn it was some type of massive bridge we were bidding for.
“All these big, massive contractors were there. Remember this is old steel and not equipment. People from the ‘one per cent’ were there. People from outside of Trinidad were there.”
Ferguson claimed the scrap iron dealers are now at a disadvantage, as they would be unable to compete fairly owing to their lack of finances.
“It is the saddest day in TT. You think we could match up ourselves with these massive contractors who want to take everything from TT?”
Ferguson also claimed that those present at the bidding process did not have licenses to trade in scrap metals. He is calling for an investigation into the matter.
“The Commissioner of Police needs to intervene in this because when we have to get a licence it takes us almost two to three months. We know these people do not have any licence.”
He said the Prime Minister’s intervention in the matter was now necessary to save the scrap iron industry and the 3,000 jobs that would have been created with the deal.
“It is not about demanding. We are trying to assist TT by supplying work to people in society who other people turn their backs on. People who come out from jail and want to do something, it is we who help them.”
Ferguson questioned if the discussions with its line ministry, Trade and Industry, and Heritage were an election gimmick.