2825957
President of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson left, responds to questions from Guardian Media Senior Journalist Derek Achong, during a press conference at Signature Hall Chaguanas yesterday. At right is Vice President of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Erros Seejattan.

The T&T Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to intervene in its ongoing dispute with Heritage Petroleum over ignoring its proposal to buy a large amount of scrap metal being sold by it.

Speaking at a press conference at Signature Hall in Chaguanas, yesterday morning, the association’s President Allan Ferguson claimed that while the company and the Government, through the Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, agreed to consider to its proposal, which it claims could revolutionise the local scrap iron industry, the company recently moved ahead to sell the items by way of competitive tender.

“I am begging the Prime Minister, now is budget time, but please hear our cries and save an industry,” Ferguson said, as he noted that many of their members’ finances have already been decimated by the closure of major local purchasers of their material including ArcelorMittal.

Ferguson admitted that his organisation was not guaranteed that they would be able to purchase the material, which it intends to process and export to Taiwan, but rather that their proposal would be fairly considered. “It is not about demanding. We are trying to assist T&T,” he said. Ferguson said that after completing an initial viewing of the items earlier this year, the association hired technical experts to help draft their official proposal.

He also claimed that the association also sought to begin the process of obtaining a multi-million dollar loan to purchase equipment needed to break down metals in the form desired by foreign companies.

He claimed that after hearing news of the tender sale of the items, which were amalgamated as Petrotrin was restructured in several companies including Heritage Petroleum. They agreed to still participate while considering their legal options.

They claimed that when they arrived they were almost not let in and saw many businessmen and agents of foreign companies, who they claimed were neither licensed nor known to engage in the scrap iron industry.

Ferguson claimed that his members, many of whom are small businessmen, do not think they would have a competitive chance against the competitors they saw.

Ferguson said that if local scrap iron dealers, who he claimed were Petrotrin’s main customers in the past, failed to secure the opportunity it could lead to their closure and employment for thousands of citizens.