RUSAL under pressure to improve relations with Kwakwani
Government, through its Ministry of Natural Resources, is examining new mechanisms to improve the strained relationship between bauxite giant, RUSAL and residents of Kwakwani.
During a meeting with Minister Robert Persaud on Wednesday, the residents complained about several issues which have been affecting them.
Residents said that they are being robbed and neglected by the company. Among some of the issues raised were the almost non-existent apprenticeship programme, the deplorable state of the roads in and around the community and the blatant delinquency in the expected corporate responsibility of the Russian-owned company.
Residents told the Minister that the company had started a project where they were to provide garbage bins for the community but that was suddenly halted. The residents also complained to the Minister that there is no proper garbage disposal system in the community while the company had thousands of empty drums stored and are not being put to use.
Speaking on the issue of the roads, the residents told the Minister that they have been incurring additional expense to do vehicular repairs. It was related that some road works had started but came to a halt as well.
However, a representative from the company who was present at the meeting claimed that the road works were halted because of the rain.
Further it was pointed out to the Minister that when the company first came they promised to provide jobs and training for persons in the community. However, there were claims that despite the presence of qualified residents, people are still being forced to seek employment elsewhere, including in Guyana’s interior.
Meanwhile, the Minister disclosed that his ministry had been working with the company on some of the issues and that mechanisms are in place to deal with these.
“In March we set up a Bauxite Development Unit and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission has dedicated focus and attention to oversee the operation of these companies.”
The Minister added that since the creation of this unit, there has been some improvement in monitoring of the area by government officials.
The gathering was also informed by the Minister that in some instances there was non-compliances and in the case of RUSAL, letters were written to them and within a short space of time the issues were rectified.
Further, following a meeting between the Minister and a team from RUSAL which was held on Wednesday evening the Minister told media representatives that all of the issues will be addressed and ‘amicably’ resolved.
According to the Minister, the company has given an undertaking to foster better relationships with the community. He also said that very soon the company will be making a donation to the community with the aim of boosting information technology capacity among youths. The Minister further pointed out that a better line of communication between the company and the residents is needed.
A Community Relations Officer will be tasked with documenting the concerns of residents and ensure that they get to the company in a timely manner and dealt with.
RUSAL has had a running battle with government and Lindeners, also in Region 10, following the sacking of over 60 employees over two years ago, who were protesting working conditions.
The matter is still unresolved.
RUSAL has operations in Aroaima and Kwakwani, Region 10.
Photo saved in server Friday as Robert and RUSAL boss
Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud, and General Manager BCGI, Ruslan Volokhav, (backing camera) during a tour of the company’s operations in Kwakwani.