The T&T Scrap Iron Dealers Association is distancing themselves from reports of dealers purchasing stolen material from Petrotrin and is calling on dealers to desist from any such practice.
During a press conference yesterday at their St Helena headquarters, president Allan Ferguson said, “We are asking all our members, all scrap dealers, please stay away from all the Petrotrin material.”
He said they had previously held a meeting with Petrotrin's security, who had informed them that investigations into the issue were being carried out and they were expecting to make an arrest on a suspect who operates from the Penal/Siparia area. However, he said the closure of the state-owned company on Friday and subsequent dismissal of employees prevented the arrest from being made.
However, vice president Erros Seejattan said the only way they can prevent the thefts from Petrotrin is to deny the peddlers a market for the material. He said it was therefore crucial that all stakeholders, such as peddlers, dealers, van-men and residents, do their part.
Admittedly, he said there were challenges in identifying material that would have originated from Petrotrin. However, he urged dealers to be vigilant and question the origin of material by insisting on receipts being produced before purchasing any scrap iron to ensure these items weren't stolen. He also recommended that dealers go further by contacting the company whose name is on the receipt to ensure the material was really sold by them and that the signature on the receipt was not falsified.
Seejattan said if the issue is not dealt with the industry would face grave consequences and ultimately shut down, much like it was in 2012 when the previous government shut the industry down temporarily.
“What we are trying to avoid is it (the industry) being shut down completely to have the system revamped,” Seejattan said.
The association is therefore also seeking the help of any governmental, non-governmental, or private agency in resolving the issue.
The association met with Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith on Wednesday and promised to work with police to curb the issue, which they also admit extends further than just stealing from the former oil company.