Scrap iron dealers are claiming that a new requirement to submit a Certificate of Environmental Clearance in order to get an operating licence can effectively shut down the multi-million dollar industry.
“We are losing millions by the day,” said president of the Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago Allan Ferguson during a press conference at the Signature Hall, Chaguanas on Monday.
Ferguson claimed that dealers are being asked to get a CEC when they apply for an operating licence only at the Chaguanas Magistrates Court. Without the operating licence dealers are unable to run their businesses or export scrap material, Ferguson said.
Scrap dealers’ licenses are valid for three years.
He and other executives of the association is now seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to resolve the issue.
“I want to tell those in authority once the scrap iron industry is shut down this will affect the crime situation in a negative way,” Ferguson said.
“This industry provides for many in the lower classes of Trinidad and Tobago and it has not been functioning since the start of the year,” he added.
He says the new requirement has affected most of the scrap yards in the Central Trinidad.
“I want to know how other scrap dealers are not being asked to submit Certificates of Environmental Clearance from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) at other courts?” Ferguson asked.
“It seems there is an ulterior motive to shut down the industry for someone else to benefit,” he claimed.
Association vice-president Erros Seejattan contends if the licensing committee wanted this new requirement they should allow dealers to get their operating licences and allow them to apply for their Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) after.
“I want to know, how I got my licence last December at the Siparia Magistrate Court and other scrap iron dealers in central are being asked this requirement,” Seejattan asked.
He said the EMA can take up to 18 months before granting a CEC and this delay can shut down many businesses.
Ferguson said his association had met with the Environmental Management Authority during a consultation for the new Scrap Metal Policy for Trinidad and Tobago and a CEC was not discussed as a new requirement.
He says the new policy only directed the Environmental Management Authority to supervise but not enforce a CEC.
The association plans to return to the Chaguanas Magistrates Court on Tuesday seeking an audience with the presiding magistrate rather than the licensing committee.
He said the association intends to take the necessary legal routes to rectify the situation.