The Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association (TTSIDA) will join with the Movement for Social Justice on November 6 in a motorcade from the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, to protest issues facing citizens in T&T.
During a media conference yesterday at Signature Hall in Chaguanas, TTSIDA president Allan Ferguson said the motorcade will also highlight issues facing scrap iron dealers in T&T.
“This rally is about that and so much more … people who are suffering and can’t get food, you getting raped, you can’t get drugs, a lot of things taking place in the country, it does always take people from nowhere or not a thing at all to appear and do something,” Ferguson said.
He said the association has tried in vain to get a meeting with the management of state-owned Heritage Petroleum Company Limited so that scrap iron dealers could access the material from the company to sell, adding the TTSIDA has been ignored for months. Ferguson said Heritage is not the only state entity ignoring the association as its members struggle to earn a living.
“And it’s not Petrotrin alone, we tried to get meetings for the sugar mill, no meeting, we tried for a meeting with T&TEC, concerning Powergen…nothing. We try all how for months and you still see what is going on now with the material that they are cutting down and going with it,” he said.
Ferguson said the association has also been lobbying for permission to remove derelict vessels from T&T’s waters but their requests were also being ignored.
“We plan to move all the ships that are sinking around the country, we plan to do it for free. You want to put out a bid, for somebody to move all these material, all these ships, and all we are asking for is to just give us assistance by using some of the areas that we can use to move these ships from the waters. But you know what they are going to do? I am telling you. by the next week or two weeks, they want to put out a bid but I think this will let them know that they have people in their organisation that tells us too,” Ferguson said.
He said while the rally is a new type of action for the association, they did not take the decision lightly and it has nothing to do with politics. He said he has not called out his members to block roads in protest because he does not subscribe to illegal activities.
However, he sent out a message to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, calling on him to heed the cry of scrap iron dealers.
“I want to ask the Prime Minister, some of these people, I don’t think you know what is going on. I think you need to listen now, listen to our complaints, listen to let me tell you something: our organisation is one moving for progress for Trinidad and Tobago. We are not Chinese, not Syrians, the other set of groups in Trinidad…because we are not these people, nobody taking us on,” he asked.
Ferguson said in countries around the world, change comes when groups unite to highlight issues.
Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah joined Ferguson at the conference, saying the party will partner with them on November 6. Abdulah said in the coming days, he expects trade unions and women’s organisations to join them. He said in past meetings with the TTSIDA, both groups realised the need for a mechanism that would allow people to express their concerns.
“Out of these conversations was the proposal to have the ‘Drive for Progress’ and if you listen very carefully to that theme, it is something very positive that we want to drive towards progress for Trinidad and Tobago as a country as a whole but also for all citizens, not just a few but for the many, for those who are being discriminated against, those who are under pressure in T&T,” Abdulah said.
He said the motorcade will allow that expression in a safe, legal way, without any breach fo the Public Health Regulations.
“Whether it is about the high and rising food prices, which no end is in sight, the issue of unemployment, the struggle for jobs, the fact that there are many people who just can’t survive from payday to payday in this land, single parents, persons who are suffering from issues of domestic violence and other forms of abuse, all of these issues affect citizens and we think it can bring people together in a common cause to drive for progress,” Abdulah said.
He said both groups hope the motorcade can inspire positive change in T&T.