Scrap iron dealers head to PM: Meet with us on proposed ban

Scrap Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson. - File photo/Marvin Hamilton
Scrap Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson. - File photo/Marvin Hamilton

With the Prime Minister considering putting a ban on the used-metal industry owing to rampant theft nationwide, the head of the TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association (TTSIDA) called for a meeting to resolve the issue.

To Dr Rowley, Allan Ferguson said: "Mr Prime Minister, please let us meet the Attorney General (AG). Let my team, the AG's team and whoever else is involved meet to make sure this industry is straightened out."

Ferguson spoke at a media conference on Friday at the association's office at By-Pass Road St Helena. It was also livestreamed on social media platforms.

On Thursday, at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, Rowley criticised cable-wire thieves for wreaking havoc. He said he intends to seek advice from AG Reginald Armour, SC, on banning the entire industry.

On June 29, vandals stole cables from the Water and Sewerage Authority's booster station in Thick Village in Siparia, cutting off water to 40,000 customers.

In April, Marabella residents blamed cable thieves for causing a fire that destroyed two houses and a parlour at The Line near Bay Road.

Two men were electrocuted this year while trying to steal copper cables and many people have been charged.

Ferguson said not all scrap iron dealers are involved in the theft. The organsation, he said, had been trying to stop the thefts. However, he said TTSIDA cannot do it alone and needs government intervention. He recalled having meetings with the Police Commissioner and TSTT's officials.

The association, he said, also wrote the Trade and Industry Ministry calling for a temporary ban on the sale of copper.

Ferguson said it is easy to stop the theft because only about seven to eight scrap yards export copper.

"Not all scrap yards export copper from TT. This is very easy to handle."

He offered a solution saying when copper is being put into containers for export, a customs officer and police should be present. This is to ensure that people put what they are supposed to put in the containers.

"I am begging you, mister Prime Minister, to hear our cries. This is the last industry that poor people have in this country, and I know you care about poor people. I know you have feelings for poor people."

While he agreed with most of what Rowley said, Ferguson emphasised the copper ban should be temporary, maybe for a few months, allowing the rest of the industry to operate.

He said the industry employs thousands of poor people and other people.

Since 2011, a symposium was held to regularise the industry, he said.

"I keep fighting and quarrellng to make sure it is run properly. Up to today, it still is in the same place. So don't blame us," Ferguson said.

He said between 2019 and this year, the industry sent out the most containers monthly for export from Trinidad.

If the entire industry is shut down, all the shipping companies that work with the association would be out of business. Ferguson also believes that the crime would get worst.

"I would not want that for my country. I want good for my country. I love my country. I would fight for my country," he said.

"I am about making this industry bring in foreign exchange in TT. We help with employment. We need to stay on that course."


"Scrap iron dealers head to PM: Meet with us on proposed ban"

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