Sep 14, 2021 Letters
With reference to the recent article entitled “MARAD warns about deplorable condition of fertiliser company wharf,” I wish to draw your attention to the fact that MARAD (and the public at large) is of the understanding that the wharf located at 15-16 Water and Holmes Streets is owned and operated by Guyana Fertilizers Ltd./Amazon Chemicals Ltd.
The wharf was, indeed, built by my father, Asad Ishoof, in the late 80’s early 90’s for the importation of bulk fertilisers to supply Guyana’s sugar and rice industries. However, due to unforeseen circumstances and a deliberate scheme of expropriation, the wharf came to be run by negligent parties, who have held sway over all matters concerning the facility. In the intervening decade or so, it has been allowed to deteriorate to the point whereby it is almost unrecognisable from the bustling, thriving international-quality port facility it once was.
No wharfage of any sort that would support our new industries or expand on the much-needed local wharf infrastructure is possible in the current state. Mariners have been warned for years by MARAD to avoid berthing at the facility.
Despite multiple efforts to access, assess and effect repairs to the facility, attorneys at law on behalf of the legal representative of the company, the trustees of the wharf and the current obdurate occupant have allowed the wharf to deteriorate to its present unusable state. The wharf retains properties built by my father; however, unlike the significant development surrounding the property, no effort has been made to repair, upgrade or expand the facility. As a consequence, the wharf has foundered under disinterested management and is no longer of any use for the development of Guyana’s future industries. The wharf, long known as “Fertiliser Wharf,” belongs in the asset pool of the Sugar and Trading Enterprises Pension Scheme (STEPS) which serves to benefit former sugarcane workers. When the wharf was built by my father, the site was a basic ‘mud flat’ as the previous facility had been burnt to the ground.
The current wharf was built at a time when no transport for the property existed; however, my father chose to invest in this important sugar industry asset, with the understanding that he would have the right to purchase that which he had developed. The intention was that the pension scheme would have not only been earning money from an investor that increased the value of their asset, but at the end of that rebuilding period, it would benefit from a handsome sale at market value, which would have been an injection of capital that the trustees could have used to increase the financial portfolio of the pension. All while the asset served to provide the most cost-effective and important input to the agricultural sector: fertiliser.
That has not occurred for many years. As several articles in the press noted, the STEPS fund has suffered tremendous losses over the past five years, devaluing significantly and providing little to no support for former GuySuCo workers. The trustees (and by extension their designate who has been ‘squatting’ on the wharf) have been in breach of their legal, contractual obligations to the company for many years; abusing the justice system with spurious contentions and unfounded allegations via injunction. So much so that it appears to be a pre-determined effort to preside over the slow and wanton destruction of this particular sugar industry asset, with overlying shades of deliberate political malice.
Extrapolating from the recent article, it would seem that the wharf is best served by removal from the negligent trustees and be returned to the beneficiaries of the original STEPS fund. I remain committed to fulfilling my late father’s dream of continuing the development of this asset for the benefit of the sugar industry’s workers, whose long tenure as the economic backbone of our nation must not be forgotten.
Scheherazade Ishoof Khan
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