Scrap-iron dealers’ head warns of more protests

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President of the TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson.

President of the TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association (TTSIDA) Allan Ferguson has issued a veiled threat about further disturbances if the government fails to meet and address its concerns.

He was spealking immediately after thanking the police for helping to ensure an incident-free motorcade on Friday,

The motorcade, held to protest the government’s temporary ban on scrap-iron export, started at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary and ended at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, at around 3 pm.

Although a relatively small number of vehicles took part, it is believed to have contributed to increased traffic in and around the capital.

Ferguson briefly addressed participants and the media, and closed his comments with a stark but ambiguous warning.

“Keep gas in your vehicles,” he said. “Do not use out all your gas, because we coming soon, because Parliament opening just now.”

Newsday later asked Ferguson, the uncontested president of the association since 2011, to expound on his comments. He replied, “We plan to mobilise all of civil society. We will announce the plans in time to come.”

He said, however, that it will not be in the form of another motorcade.

In his address, Ferguson accused the government of making secret plans for the industry, which he said will ultimately benefit foreign companies and individuals.

“Our association, and I as president, I am trying to meet with the government to make this industry open back, and we are trying very hard to get that meeting with them.

“And I just want to ask the question: who is the person, who is the company in InvesTT that you all want to give this industry to?”

InvesTT is a state agency created to provide particularly foreign organisations seeking to invest in TT markets with expertise and services.

“Trinidad and Tobago, you ask the question, too; why it is they was doing all the studies in reference (to) how much material it have? Why they doing all that?

“They doing all that now, as we make this journey to open the industry, (to) give it to a company from foreign. Well, I’m telling them, forget about that.”

The motorcade is one of several protests put on by the TTSIDA, scrap-iron dealers and workers coming out of the government’s announcement last month of a ban on exports for six months, owing to an upsurge in the theft of copper and other valuable materials belonging to the State and private citizens.

Fiery protests were staged in Claxton Bay almost immediately after the ban was announced, followed more recently by an early-morning blockade on the northbound lane of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, resulting in standstill traffic.