Linden protest bites deep…Mining, logging camps starved, Govt. weighs options
- fuel skyrockets, cash runs out
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment yesterday met with representatives of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) and the Forest Producers Association (FPA), to look at ways in which the Ministry can lend support to ensure that items of produce are taken into logging and mining camps.
Since the commencement of the protest by Lindeners, miners, forestry producers and workers within the bauxite industry have been suffering because transportation of fuel and food into the area and to the mining camps is almost at a standstill.
Alternative mechanisms to ensure that produce enter mining camps in a low cost way, delay the implementation of the new Export Lobby, the establishment of a hotline number so that forestry and mining operators can make contact and the development of alternative routes if there is a recurrence of the issue, are some of the mechanisms the Ministry is currently implementing.
The team which was lead by President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Mohindra Chand, who updated the Minister on the present price gouging they face to take their produce into the backdams.
“We have been getting lots of calls from businesses that are currently unable to get anything through the road blocks…Apart from the price gouging for basic foodstuff, we are forced to have our produce air-dashed and this is costing us a lot,” Chand said.
Currently, operators are forced to pay $75,000 per barrel for fuel and the operators are looking to the Ministry for support and guidance on the way forward.
Chand, who pledged on behalf of the forest industry to give the necessary support to the Ministry, stated that there is currently little fuel supplies left in Kwakwani, Region Ten where a significant amount of logging is being done.
Khalawan, a representative of the FPA, also spoke of how the present situation is hurting the industry and operators who are working for an honest living.
“There is no means of even getting cash into the camps. We have to pay workers as well as manage our operations…We would normally rely on getting cash from the banks in Linden but this is a ‘no- no’ because of the situation,” he said.
According to Khalawan, more than 25 workers have since been sent packing from the Coldingen, East Coast Demerara location because he is unable to supply lumber for the operations. Buyers are also threatening legal actions against suppliers for breach of their contractual arrangements to supply on time.
Minister Persaud, while acknowledging the situation, committed to ensuring that alternatives are developed so that work can progress. Foreign buyers are cancelling their orders under the basis that Guyana is unreliable, he said.
He denounced the actions of the protestors, stating that workers want to continue to ply their trade and encouraged the Lindeners to not be misguided by extremists with their political motives.
Government is currently holding regular meetings with the Opposition and Region Ten officials to look at ways in which the issue can be resolved and which will bring a sense of normalcy to the mining town.
“People’s livelihoods are at stake and this form of action must stop…however. I don’t anticipate that the situation will prolong much longer,” he said.
The meeting with the forestry operators is one of a series being held by the Ministry to resolve barriers so that operations can progress smoothly.