There is a proposal currently before the Cabinet that could see a ban being enforced on the exportation of scrap iron/metal from Trinidad and Tobago for six months.
Announcing this during a media briefing at the Ministry of National Security, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said the authorities were determined to stop the acts of theft and vandalism which were continuing to disrupt the provision of utility services to the populace.
He said it was only on Thursday that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had instructed Attorney General Reginald Armour to “contemplate and formulate proposals to stem this dangerous activity that has now found itself inside of the scrap metal trade.”
Pointing to the benefits derived from the scrap metal/iron industry, Hinds said those engaged in the sector had acknowledged the presence of criminal elements within the sector.
He said the dealers indicated their willingness to become regulated and to also provide information to law enforcement about criminal activities. A Cabinet sub-committee has been convened to advance this matter and is being headed by Armour. It includes Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, Energy Minister Stuart Young and Hinds.
Hinds said Armour last week submitted a note to Cabinet, which has since been forwarded to the Finance and General Purposes sub-committee for Cabinet’s urgent consideration and it is expected that by Monday, outstanding issues will be “tidied” up as it relates to the proposed legislative measures to deal with the problem.
Hinds explained that anyone wanting to continue operating in the sector would require a license once these changes are enacted.
“Effectively, the Government is proposing a six-month ban on the exportation of old and scrap iron, including copper, including people’s gate, including the covers on the drains and manholes around the place, including the barriers along the highway…” Hinds said, adding that people involved in drilling and oil and gas production had also suffered from this “madness.”
Reiterating that Government was prepared to stand up and do what is required, Hinds said the intelligence agencies in the country were paying attention to “plots” being discussed in several quarters.
Alluding to attempts by people to destabilise the country, Hinds warned, “We urge the citizens of this country, whatever your cause, whatever your motivations, however, you feel, you don’t have to go there.”
He added, “Come down from there. There are always opportunities, whether it is through the courts or otherwise, to resolve your grievances. But if you choose to resort to disrupting our communications networks and our water distribution networks to suffer the people of T&T, we are sworn to protect against it.”