Legal action is in the works by the T&T Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association against the Government, after a six-month ban on the exportation of scrap iron took effect last Friday (August 12).
During a press conference yesterday, association president Allan Ferguson again pleaded with the Government not to shut down exports for the entire period.
He said his association will consider legal action if their pleas are not heard.
“We will go to court and as far as the Privy Council, we have been speaking with our lawyers to make sure that once the Government shuts down the industry, we are looking to go to the court to file an injunction,” Ferguson said.
He added that his association was not sitting idly but has been doing work in preparation for challenging the decision, which was announced by the Attorney General yesterday, hours after the association’s news conference.
The association said the shutdown could affect families and the country negatively and can create a ripple effect, especially in crime.
“If you shut down this industry, persons in Grenada and the Caribbean, as many of these people ply scrap metal to local dealers in Trinidad and Tobago and when they sell us and they get money, you know what they do with their money, they purchase goods in wholesale places and buy goods to carry back to their respective countries. That is what they do. So when this industry is shut down, it is not just Trinidad and Tobago affected, it is also other countries in the region being affected by this,” Ferguson said.
In the last few months, state agencies have incurred millions in losses because of increasing copper theft across the country, in particular at State utility installations.
Ferguson yesterday begged Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to have a change of heart regarding the six-month ban, which comes to an end in February 2023.
“All I want to say is that Mr Prime Minister, I am telling you to rethink your position and let your Ministers know that those who have an agenda have the authority to stop it. You all have the power because you are in charge and I know you can do it, so please hold on banning the sector,” Ferguson begged.
The Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association has taken its own steps to regulate the industry following a meeting with a Cabinet sub-committee. It has conducted forums to allow its members to register and even offered to inspect scrap yards to ensure stolen items were not on premises.
Ferguson said he has tried different approaches to prevent the shutting down of the industry.
“We have asked the Port and Customs for a meeting and nothing. I think that they like the crime in the country, they like they love the crime and we are a major stakeholder in the industry, up to now no one has responded and they seem that they don’t care, they don’t care what happens in Trinidad and Tobago and what happens in this industry.”
Ferguson added, “This industry has the most containers that leave the port of this country, is we that send them out of Trinidad and Tobago. No respect is how I look and how I speak, that is why. Had I been a Chinese or a Syrian, I am sure the conversation would have been different and just because of who I am and who controls the industry, they don’t like it. Even the Commissioner of Police, you can write him many letters and talk, and the end result is nothing.”
Attorney General Reginal Armour, in announcing the ban on exports yesterday, said he was hoping to reverse the ban sooner than the stipulated time.