– boiler repairs, replacement could take at least 18 months
By Leonard Gildarie
Following the sudden closure of its plywood factory at Land of Canaan and the ripple effect fallout from the loss of jobs, as well as setbacks in the local and international markets, Barama Company Limited (BCL) is exploring options of importing or even installing a smaller boiler to make the facility operational.
These were among some of the recommendations made by the company earlier last week to government.
According to BCL’s Chief Executive Officer, Clement Ooi, in an update to President Bharrat Jagdeo, Labour Minister, Manzoor Nadir, the Guyana Forestry Commission, GRA and GO-Invest, the company has launched a feasibility study to find out whether a small capacity boiler can be installed at the Land of Canaan site to allow for local market demands to be met.
However, even if this approach is feasible, it will take at least five months to be realised. Another option to meet local market demands is importation of plywood, but the costs attached and logistics would still put the price way above the normal one, even if it is shipped in large quantities.
In early October, BCL announced that its boiler at Land of Canaan went down because of staff negligence, forcing the company to take a harsh position and close its plywood operations.
Immediately, the company also announced it would have to send home 274 workers.
Additionally, there were widespread concerns of the fallout on the local market, especially with plywood in huge demand for the construction industry.
There were fears that housing costs would rise as homeowners turned to the more expensive options.
According to BCL in its report to Government last week, in addition to paying off the staffers, some of whom literally grew up with the company and were living at the Land of Canaan work site at the time of closure, the company will be working to ensure affected employees were part of governmental programmes.
“We wish to also state that once the plywood situation is regularised, our company will be recreating employment opportunities for the Guyanese working class along with other direct and indirect benefits…”
Regarding the local plywood market, local distributors have been informed of the situation with an estimated one-month of supplies left with the company.
According to BCL, it is working with its overseas buyers to redirect outstanding supplies to them to local markets, instead.
Regarding its sawmilling operations, the company said that this will continue without any negative impacts but in the logging section, the harvesting of plywood species will be reduced until “an appropriate plan can be implemented”.
“The impact on all external log supplies is immediate but given this sudden occurrence, we have agreed to accept only logs already harvested effective October 15, 2010. In addition, we have re-transported approximately 3,500 cubic metres of plywood logs from Land of Canaan to Buck Hall for processing by the veneer factory.”
According to the company, with these logs, along with other supplies, it will mean BCL will have on hand in excess of 8,000 cubic metres of logs, a main concern because these can start deteriorating once they are not used early.
As regards the restoration of the plywood factory, BCL said it is faced with two options – either replacing the boiler or repairing it. It is estimated that both options will take at least 18 months before the factory could be up and running.
Already, BCL has spoken with the Demerara Distillers Limited, GuySuCo and Linmine, with the hope that some kind of technical help would be forthcoming.
However, in the case of DDL, the boiler of that company is different from BCL. Talks are underway with GuySuCo and Linmine, the CEO explained.
President Bharrat Jagdeo is expected to meet with BCL workers tomorrow to discuss possible assistance for their sudden loss of jobs.
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