Jun 26, 2013 News
The Hururu Village Council is hoping to receive word this week from the Russian firm RUSAL on whether the bauxite mining entity will allow villagers to have access to a key roadway that leads to logging concessions.
But Village Council Toshao Winsbert Benjamin and his Deputy, Victor Walker, said that RUSAL officials here indicated that they are awaiting word from their counterparts in Russia regarding several other proposals that the Council submitted in May.
Benjamin told Kaieteur News that the RUSAL general manager relayed this information to him on Monday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Toshao Walker said that an official from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs contacted RUSAL regarding access to the roadway that the company has prohibited villagers from using. He was hoping to receive a response yesterday.
Villagers who earn a living by logging have complained that they have been unable to harvest logs since the RUSAL set up a checkpoint there.
“During the protest they had said that when we clear (stop blocking) the road they would allow us to use it,” Walker said.
The Council, with assistance from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, had submitted several proposals to the Russian firm in May regarding the leasing of land and access to the key roadway.
Among the proposals submitted was that RUSAL pay increased costs for the land that it has leased from the village; that the bauxite firm construct a new roadway that will provide residents with access to logging concessions, and that villagers be allowed to use the roadway it has leased to RUSAL until the new one is completed.
The Deputy Toshao had said that RUSAL had already promised to carry out a number of developmental projects in the community.
The dispute between RUSAL and the Upper Berbice residents escalated in late April after RUSAL set up a checkpoint at a roadway that villagers had been using for decades, but which the Council had leased to RUSAL.
Residents alleged that this had prevented them from having access to logging concessions and harvesting millions in already cut logs. They had responded by blocking the roadway and stringing coils of wire rope across the Berbice River to prevent RUSAL barges from traversing the waterway.
Deputy Toshao Walker and other villagers had blamed former members of the Village Council of entering into an agreement which was more advantageous to RUSAL than to their community.
He had explained that around 2005, members of the previous Council leased several acres of land at Kurubuka (located some seven miles from Hururu) to RUSAL for $1.2M per month. They also leased the Hururu roadway for $1.1M per month. This money is paid to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and some $1M is deducted and paid to RUSAL monthly for electricity.
Walker also explained that the former Village Council also agreed that logging near the mining site would cease once RUSAL commenced mining.
Minister Sukhai had confirmed these agreements, but accused some residents of refusing to adhere to the previous arrangements which the community and RUSAL had entered into.
Was Jagdeo honest when he made those promises?
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