The Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association will this weekend stage a motorcade from the Brian Lara Promenade and through Port-of-Spain to protest the Government’s proposed plans to shut down the scrap industry for six months.
Last year, the association held a similar motorcade to protest issues facing citizens in T&T.
Speaking during a press conference at Jenny’s on the Boulevard on Monday, president Allan Ferguson said, “We will let the Government know that this industry employs a lot of people. So, this Saturday, I want you to know we will have a rally where we will invite all the trade union movement and all the right-thinking people to save our industry. I beg you all to come with us, that is only if the Government does not change its position.”
The move by the Government comes after the continued theft of copper lines and of infrastructure at entities like WASA, TSTT and T&TEC, which has disrupted services across the country.
Ferguson said if the decision is taken to shut down the industry there will be grave consequences, as the sector provides food for the lowest income bracket. He fears if this happens, people may turn to crime.
Ferguson said instead of the proposed six-month shutdown of the industry, the association wants the Government to stop the export of copper for a few months.
“The Commissioner of Police has failed us. He wanted to get names of persons doing the illegal activity and I told him that we worked with other commissioners to get rid of the past problems we had. I am saying that you fail this organisation and I will tell you why when you ask for a meeting and we sent letters upon letters to help us and work with us and no help is coming forward,” he said.
Ferguson said the association was thus left with no choice but to launch its own hotline for members of the public to report copper and metal thefts.
“Today (Monday), we are launching our hotline and you can call us 24 hours and if the police do not want to hear when we are calling and they don’t answer, we will expose them and the area and we will give out the number for the hotline.”
The association head also chided Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds for supporting the shutdown of the industry.
“Mr Hinds, you sit down in Cabinet and many persons in your constituency earn a lot of money from the scrap iron industry and you sat down and agree with them to shut down the industry for six months and you don’t want me to say anything, and I must keep my mouth shut? But let me tell you something, I am championing for the poor.”
Last Friday, Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob announced that the TTPS was offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of people behind the acts of theft and vandalism that have been taking place at essential utility locations.