THE Scrap Iron Dealers Association (SIDA) wants to change its culture from “buying scrap iron, old battery buying,” to be recognised as a strong industry contributing to the economy.
Association president Allan Fergusson was hoping to lead his members in a car rally on Wednesday morning, from 9 am, starting at the Heritage Petroleum office, Point Fortin, and ending at the former Petrotrin refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre, to highlight what the group feels are injustices to the industry as it fights for survival.
But acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob denied permission.
Fergusson said his industry has been knocking on the doors of different governments since 2011 to be recognised as an employer and foreign-exchange earner, but ten years later it has not been given recognition.
“Is it because of my colour? Is it because of the way I look? It is because of the (at-risk) people who make up my membership?” he asked. “I can’t change my colour. I can’t change my looks. This is how God has made me.
"We ready to work with any government to assist in job creation and as a foreign-exchange earner.”
He spoke of SIDA’s plans to recover wrecked vessels from the sea off Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean at no cost to the Government. as investors are on standby.
He said this exercise, which would require facilitation by Government, would lead to the immediate creation of 1,000 jobs and foreign exchange for the country.
He said one of the largest steel mills in the world is ready to set up business in TT to cut up the scrap from the wrecked vessels.
Fergusson said his organization is part of the recycling industry, recycling paper, oil, oil, aluminum, batteries, scrap iron and other materials, and has the capacity to recycle 75 per cent of TT’s waste. Members attend recycling and climate-change conferences around the world, he said, in their attempt to gain knowledge and educate their members.
He said SIDA currently exports 800 containers of scrap every month out of the ports of Point Lisas and Port of Spain.
Yet, he said, attempts to get the Government to recognise it as a viable employer and foreign-exchange earner have fallen on deaf ears.
“All we are asking is for the Finance Minister to recognise us as a strong industry that could contribute to the economy. We are not asking for handouts.”
Fergusson recently sat on a pre-budget panel discussion organised by the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), where he spoke about plans to take the SIDA to another level and called for respect and recognition from the Government.
Leader of the MSJ David Abdulah said, “As a nation we have to be thinking differently and leaders have to think differently and value people and the contribution they are making.”
He lauded SIDA’s environmental initiatives and said he was pleasantly surprised it was shipping 800 containers of recycled waste out of TT every month.
“That is huge,” Abdulah commented.