Some nine months after the closure of the Skeldon Sugar Estate, businesses in the bordering town of Corriverton, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) are recording very low sales and many of them are operating at a loss.
Following the closure of four sugar factories last year, and the displacing of 7000 workers, several communities recorded a slowdown in commercial activity.
Last year, 1851 workers were sacked from the Skeldon Sugar Estate, 1181 from the Rose Hall Estate, 1480 from the East Demerara Sugar Estate and 251 from the Wales Sugar Estate.
The impact on Corriverton as a result of the Skeldon closure is being referred to as great.
During a visit to the market area, business persons complained about the low sales as they struggle to keep their heads above water.
“The reality is that income has been slashed by more than 50 per cent so that the business can continue to keep its doors open,” this media group was told by one business person.
Additionally, some persons reported that they were forced to reduce their staff while others have given staff reduced working hours.
The town, in which the estate once operated, is used to being a hive of activity but now the only movement is mainly due to the town’s geographical location in relation to Suriname – this keeps the commercial activity going in Corriverton.
In the market, the reality is evident. Some stalls were closed. Vendors reported that it is not profitable to operate every day. The market was in the past the busiest part of the town but now shows a dramatic change owing to the closure of the sugar estate.
Many of the operators there said that some days they record no sales. Fish vendors claim they are now spending more money on ice than they spend on purchasing fish.
This, they explained, is so because of the length of time it takes to sell the fish they buy.
“Me use to buy one tub of fish and sell it out before afternoon. Now I only buying one bucket and it taking me three days to sell out… leave out how much I got to throw away,” one vendor told this publication.
Another one said since the estate closed, the Corriverton market has become very slow.
There have also been reports of persons in communities being barely able to provide one meal per day for their families and cannot find even meager jobs.
According to one businessman, despite the reality which the people on the Upper Corentyne are being faced with, attempts are not being made by the Government to put a comprehensive programme in place to assist the community. (Andrew Carmichael)