COVID-19 further impacting residents who are still reeling from sugar estate closure

Hemwattie Deonarine

By: Andrew Carmichael

Residents of Corriverton who have not been able to get over the impact of the closure of the Skeldon Sugar Factory are now being tasked to deal with COVID-19 which has resulted in a further contracted economy, rendering many more persons unemployed.

Some of the communities severely affected are Crabwood Creek, Little India and Little Africa in Corriverton as well as Race Course and Springlands.

For 27-year-old Candeda Wright of Little Africa, a mother of two, there is no steady income as her husband has been out of a job ever since the estate closed.

“We are going through some rough times right now. We live in a rented house. The rent is $42,000 a month and the landlord running every day for money and my husband use to work at the estate and since the estate close down, he is not working.”

Candace Wright

According to her husband, Ivor Ethare, who also has two other children, he would go into the backdam to catch fish; some for the family to eat and if there is excess, he sells it in order to make a living.

When the Skeldon Estate closed its doors in December 2017, 1800 workers were rendered jobless and jobs became scarce in the Upper Corentyne area including the bordering town of Corriverton.

In December 2017, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government closed four sugar factories and almost 5000 workers were displaced.

Some 1800 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.

Ethare says that he has sent several applications to the housing department for land, hoping to be able to construct his own house someday, but he has gotten no response.

Meanwhile, some persons have noted that with restaurants closed as a result of COVID-19, they are out of a job.

Hemwattie Deonarine, 49, is the breadwinner for a family of seven. Her husband is unemployed and she makes $25,000 per month.

“Right now none of mi children na wuk no way beside me an mi one son wha dea ‘Boyo Shop’, ah get in an out wuk. One day and two day wuk and after dah, he done pon am again till dem call am back fo gie am another two day wuk again.”

She explained that she is employed with the municipality as a Drainage and Irrigation worker.

“$25,000 a month and the money can’t do fo me and mi two children and two grand picknie. Mi husband na wuk,” she disclosed.

It is stories like these that caused the Golden Gloves Foundation to distribute 119 food hampers on Tuesday to vulnerable persons from Little Africa, Race Course and Springlands.

Faaiz Mosley, the President of the Foundation, said the project was undertaken because of the vulnerability noticed in those communities.

“Business is stagnated and people are not having jobs. So, we sought to give hampers to persons who are being affected by these circumstances,” he said.

The Golden Gloves Foundation distributing hampers to vulnerable residents.

Mosley noted that the Foundation visited the communities and interviewed persons before selecting those who will benefit.

“Just last week we did Crabwood Creek and Moleson creek. So, we are going throughout the coastline to all the vulnerable villages as we see fit.”

He further explained that many of the persons they interviewed are out of a job.

The Foundation was formed in October last year.