The ongoing Berbice protests over the gruesome murder of two teenage boys of Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB), have disrupted the livelihood of hundreds.
It has stalled the movement of rice, cash crops and services.
Protest action demanding justice for West Berbice’s murdered teenagers, Joel and Isaiah Henry, began on Sunday evening after their bodies were found dumped in clumps of bushes near to a coconut estate with their throats slashed and bearing multiple chop wounds.
Reports are that the unrest began in Number Four Village but soon spread to several neighbouring villages. The protests continued and up to late last evening were still ongoing.
In fact, reports had reached Kaieteur News that the unrest, which began escalating with violence spilled over to Corentyne, Region Six, and even reached as far as New Amsterdam.
Apart from the violent exchanges between protestors and riot officers along with attacks and robberies of civilians, the livelihood of many were greatly affected.
Kaieteur News understands that public servants, health workers, vendors, travelers, trucks, basic goods and farm produces were left stuck and stranded.
Businesses, shops among other services, which depend on goods from Georgetown came to a standstill.
Taxis and hire cars and minibuses were all left without work.
Many newspaper vendors complained of not being able to rake in their daily earnings because the delivery vans from the various print media houses were forced to head back to Georgetown.
The media houses, too, suffered not only from losses but having their reporters’ work go to waste.
Speaking with employees from Stabroek News, this publication was told that a large quantity of its daily copies was scheduled to be delivered yesterday, to a number of villages in Berbice including New Amsterdam.
However, the vans made forced to retreat at Mahaicony and return to Georgetown with hundreds of copies.
One of the drivers of the Kaieteur News delivery van said it pains him to see so much losses.
The driver explained that during the recent protest for the release of the controversial Returning Officer of Region Four, Claimont Mingo, his boss instructed that the undelivered daily copies be distributed free of cost the following day.
Vendors however, the driver said, were reluctant to do so. The man said that the vendor made excuses that it will be too much weight to carry around and as a result there were significant returns.
A veteran pressman, who also spoke with this media house, weighed the losses. The pressman explained that in order to print a thousand copies, it takes a significant amount of ink, paper and other raw materials. These essentials, he said, costs money and if the newspapers aren’t sold then you lose that money.
Meanwhile, farmers, too, explained to Kaieteur News how they are suffering.
A woman from Black Bush Polder said that trucks from Georgetown would travel to Berbice each day to purchase fresh produce such as ochroes, peppers and other crops.
The ongoing protests and road blockade, she said, have left these trucks stranded. This has led to her throwing bags of ochroes and peppers, to the tune of thousands of dollars…money she badly needs. Apart from losing thousands of dollars in cash crops, she lost a daily wage.
On the other side of the coin, the contracted truck drivers were paid for their day’s labour as well. A prominent rice farmer from Canje, Berbice told this newspaper that he was heading to Bath to uplift a combine machine to harvest his crop of rice but was forced to return to his home without the machine. The man said that he is now at risk of losing that crop should there be any rainfall.
A spokesperson for Nand Persaud said not only has the company lost paddies, which were burnt by protestors but it has also missed major shipments.
As result, the man said, the company will have to play ‘ketch up’ in the coming days should things go back to normal.
Fishermen, too, claimed that they have not been paid since the protests began. Multiple fish trucks were not allowed to pass they said.
“Luckily, we have enough ice and cold storage to prevent the fish from spoiling.”
A poultry farmer who was transporting 3,000 baby chicks to Berbice was told by his clients to use other means to get the chicks delivered.
They advised him to charter boats from Mahaicony to Abary, which would cost him more in transportation.
His friends told him that if he doesn’t do this then he will be forced to face the loss of all his chickens.
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