Scrap iron workers joined with taxi drivers of Barrackpore in protest action yesterday, blocking the roads with heaps of gravel, burning tyres and other debris.
Several parts of Rochard Road, Number Two, Barrackpore Trace and Rochard Douglas Road were blocked, with the police doing their bests to quell protests. In one scenario, three men who were at a site jumped into a river to elude capture.
Speaking at a blockade site, Ramesh Ramsaroop, a scrap iron worker, said he was so frustrated that he was willing to sell his van and buy an AR15 gun.
“We cannot even afford to buy butter for my children. A month now, no work. I don’t know where to get money,” he cried.
The Government announced a ban on scrap iron exports on August 15.
Saying they will not stop their protests, Ramsaroop said the community of Barrackpore was forgotten.
“The roads are in a terrible condition.”
He added: “What you doing, they making us criminals. I fed up with so many things I want. I want them to reopen the scrap iron (industry).”
Businessman Randy Ramtahal said his trucks could not go out to work.
“On one hand, we disagree with the approach but we have to understand what the people are going through,” Ramtahal said.
“Look at the condition of the road. In some instances, you have to go down into a drain and come back up and that is the normal road. Look at scrap ironworkers, you close down the industry after all the cable has been stolen. All those fellas are unemployed,” Ramtahal said.
Lamenting the spate of crime, Ramtahal added: “Recently, an aged couple in Number Five was robbed and tied up for the whole night. Robbery after robbery in Barrackpore.”
Anthony Steeling, another scrap iron dealer, said they could no longer face an uncertain future.
“We want our children to have the same options as other children. We cannot afford to buy books for them,” he added.
Barrackpore Taxi Drivers Association vice president Keith Balkissoon said they were fed of frequent floods and no water in the pipes.
“There is a major bridge in Number 2, which is a Bailey bridge, that blocks all the water from St Marys and Moruga. When rain falls its only flood. We are calling on Minister Rohan Sinanan, it’s about time you do something. We have no water in the taps. We fed up,” Balkissoon said.
The residents have set up signs at Number Two Junction to highlight their frustration.
Meanwhile, MP for Naparima Rodney Charles issued a statement last night saying rising unemployment rates, increasing poverty and income inequality were the main reasons for protests.
“With the Government’s ill-conceived, six-month ban on the export of scrap iron, citizens at the lower end of the social ladder feel that they are especially being targeted, and are frightened for their very survival and future,” Charles said.
“It is time that this Rowley regime understands that they have to serve all citizens and address the needs of everyone. In 2022, citizens should not be made to feel like the only way this Government listens is through fiery protests and burning tyres.”