The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is reportedly spending millions of dollars to maintain the four sugar estates which was closed by the current administration leaving some 30,000 sugar workers unemployed.
In a recent ‘Invitation for Bids” published in a section of the media, the sugar corporation for excavator operators to undertake works at the four estates.
The bid invitation is asking for suitably qualified and experienced bidders to undertake the provision of labour to operate GuySuCo’s excavators at the Wales, East Demerara, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates.
Speaking on the issue, former Agriculture Minister, Leslie Ramsammy said that Government erred by failing to preserve a crew for maintenance work at the estates, a move which angered him since there were experienced excavator operators who were dismissed.
These operators, he stated, were among thousands of sugar workers who lost their jobs and are now experiencing difficulties providing for their families.
“It exposes the ineptitude of the Board and the Management of GuySuCo and the Ministry of Agriculture for not recognising that certain staffing had to be retained for the closed estates. The closed estates are expensive and valuable assets which still remain properties of GuySuCo and the Government and, are assets that belong to the people,” Ramsammy asserted.
Abandonment of valuable property
According to the former Agriculture Minister, the closure of the estates was handled likened to that as an abandonment of valuable property.
“Closure should never have meant abandonment. Maintenance work had to be preserved for more than one reason. Firstly, the closed estates represent properties which have value and that value can only be preserved if the properties were maintained. Instead, the Ministry of Agriculture and GuySuCo’s Board and management walked away from the estates, with a posture of abandonment. This is not just another example of ineptitude and mismanagement, this is misconduct in office,” he stressed.
Further, Ramsammy pointed out that even drainage and irrigation (D&I) workers in these estates should have been kept because while the estates were closed.
The former Agriculture Minister outlined that shortly after public outrage over the closure of the estates, Government, through the Special Purposes Unit (SPU) established by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), announced that all four of the closed estates would be offered for divestment to the Private Sector.
Now three years later, he added, GuySuCo realises that maintenance work is needed.
According to Ramsammy, GuySuCo is not trying to hire persons who are experienced in operating excavators, but is seeking to contract a bidder who will then provide operators for GuySuCo’s excavators. This, he pointed out, would mean a more costly mechanism for excavator services in the closed estates.