The Government has mandated the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to restart operations at the Enmore Sugar Factory early 2022, and the ongoing works at Success, East Coast Demerara, is part of the company’s efforts to meet its deadline.
GuySuCo’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Sasenarine Singh says while he empathises with the squatters who have been affected by the steps being taken at Vryheid’s Lust/Success to prepare the land for cultivation, the Ministry of Housing and Water had engaged them and urged them to relocate.
“GuySuCo is not a housing agency. We are an agricultural agency and our exclusive business is in the cultivation and production of sugar and value-added sugar related products, and that is all we are trying to do in a legal and a legitimate way,” Mr. Singh told DPI in an exclusive interview today.
Some $2 billion in future cash flow to GuySuCo were destroyed by the squatters when they burnt the fields, and this has affected the company’s ability to create future strains of productive cane.
Further, with the squatters still there, Mr. Singh said, the original plans for recultivation and the creation of over 2,000 jobs are all being hindered.
The CEO explained that to have successful outcomes from the sugar mills at Enmore, there must be a supply of one-year-old matured sugar canes and therefore, the lands have to be prepared now for cultivation in January 2021.
“We are not doing anything that is against the law. We are basically trying to produce sugar from sugar lands, feed the sugar mills, and produce sugar for Enmore so that we can create over 2,000 jobs,” he said.
The CEO believes that the sugar company is not being unreasonable, since it had previously parcelled off and transferred high-value lands to the Housing Ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority to facilitate 28,000 house lots.
The Enmore agriculture cultivation now remains with approximately 6,881 hectares of lands and that amount has to be cultivated to accomplish the Government’s mandate.
Earlier this year, scores of persons had illegally moved onto the plot of lands owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited.
The squatters burnt fields that were cultivated with 17,000 varieties of cane species that GuySuCo had developed over several years.
The burning of the land has pushed back the programme of producing different varieties of cane by a decade, Head of GuySuCo’s Agricultural Department, Mr. Gavin Ramnarine said earlier in October.
The company gave squatters notice to cease occupying the land as operations were scheduled to start. After a protest erupted, the Housing Ministry, led by the Minister, Collin Croal intervened and subsequently hosted a housing drive on October 1, at the Chateau Margot Primary School to help squatters start the process towards lawful homeownership.