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Minister supports stopping scrap iron exports if necessary

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales says he completely supports the Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association’s (TTSIDA) call for a temporary ban on copper exports.

Speaking during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lopinot Water Treatment Plant yesterday, Gonzales said aggressive action needs to be taken to stop the theft of TSTT cables, Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) fixtures and manhole covers.

On Monday, the TTSIDA appealed to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to temporarily ban the export of copper, saying it was the only way to stop the thefts that have become rampant across the country.

In the past two years, two people were electrocuted while trying to steal overhead lines and a third was shot dead by a Carapichaima resident after he and two others tried stealing lines in Central Trinidad.

“I support that 100 per cent because the madness that we have now descended to as a country, in now attacking our utility infrastructure, be it WASA, be it TSTT, be it Petrotrin, Ministry of Works and Transport, manhole covers, this nonsense has to stop, and if they are putting forward a proposal to outlaw the export of this thing I fully support it,” Gonzales said yesterday.

He said this was his personal view but he believes a cross-ministry approach was needed to properly address this issue.

On Monday, his Cabinet colleague, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, said a ban was not being considered.

Yesterday, Gonzales said if new laws are needed to stop these thefts, the Cabinet will work together to make it happen.

“We are talking to each other with a view to coming up with a policy and if it requires legislative intervention, this is something that we are more than prepared to do but this is something that is causing us some great anxiety and we don’t intend to stand by and allow this nonsense to continue,” Gonzales said.

He said he has no issue with meeting the TTSIDA on the issue.

“I think they are a critical stakeholder, we will not take any action that is going to impact on their industry and whatever decision that we arrive at it must have their input in it,” he said.

Gonzales said he was very distressed after seeing reports that scrap iron thieves were targeting WASA lines for copper fittings. He said the authority was already struggling witht its mandate to provide a reliable water supply and these thieves were only making the situation worse.

Source Guardian

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