“What happened to us is worse than Section 34. For the last two to three years we have been treated like step children…bastards.”
This was the angry complaint of Allan Ferguson, president of the Trinidad & Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers Association (TTSIDA), during a news conference at Signature Hall, Longdenville, Wednesday.
The conference was called to disclose that in a letter dated November 18, 2021, Heritage Petroleum chairman Michael Quamina informed the association that its bid to remove scrap material from the State-owned oil refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre was rejected.
Anthony Rampersad, former project manager at Petrotrin, an executive member of the TTSIDA, who had helped in the development of the bid, read the letter from Quamina.
Quamina said in a meeting with the TTSIDA on November 11, he noted there were missing provisions in the association’s bid.
“The bid process is not in accordance with the tenets of good procurement and disposal practices,” said the Heritage chairman.
Quamina said a review conducted revealed no bid was received from any entity called the Scrap Iron Dealers Association.
“I am advised that what was received was a Google link submitted on behalf of one individual, Allan Ferguson.”
Further, the submission received from Ferguson could not be accessed for evaluation as the Google link provided had expired by October 15, 2020, the same day tenders went out for bids, Quamina said.
Quamina said the invitation to bid was issued on September 11, 2020 and advertised in all three daily newspapers for one week.
He said they got 22 responses and seven were rejected as being non-compliant with the bid process.
He told the TTSIDA they have no legal obligation to disclose the name of the successful bidder. Such information could be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
However, TTSIDA vice-president, Erros Seejattan, recalled that mere weeks before the 2020 general elections a letter of intent was sent to the association promising to work with them on Petrotrin’s scrap iron.
He said they were asked to prepare a proposal and spent thousands of dollars and man hours doing so.
However, shortly after the election the advertisement appeared on the newspapers inviting bidders.
Sejattan said he believes it was just an election gimmick.
Countering Quamina’s letter, the TTSIDA said their bid submitted by Ferguson clearly stated “TTSIDA joint venture”.
TTSIDA secretary, Wiletta Wilson, said they were also advised by three IT experts that Google links don’t expire on their own unless a paid stipulation was sent by the sender.
“We did not send such stipulation,” she assured.
Ferguson said he continues to get calls from scrap iron dealers from Point Fortin, Arima and all parts of the country,
“Not one day I told them to block the road. We have the material to block the road.
“But if I am no longer head of the TTSIDA or something, I can’t guarantee they won’t do this.”
Scrap iron dealers, through videos, said they pay all bills and buy food from scrap iron.
“We got no relief, nothing, during the lockdown.”
A scrap worker in Dump Road, Arima said, “It have plenty youths up here who not getting no jobs anywhere.
“This is what we live off and you coming to lock it down? You will have problems.”
A manager at a Penal scrapyard said he gives work to a lot of the unemployed, including discharged prisoners.
Source Trinidad Express