The sugar estates closed by the APNU/AFC coalition due to sheer vindictiveness and spite have remained closed ever since. From APNU’s perspective those estates would not be reopening again. This is the mantra the PNC have been peddling since and they have been holding a never-ending amen corner since with that sanctimonious gangster theme, ‘why are the sugar estates still closed, why are the sugar estates still closed!’
Well, to begin with there are lots of things going on in the sugar belt other than their reopening that they need to be cognisant of. I am talking about many developmental changes which augur well for the movement of industry and people, well into the fashioning of a modern society. Reopening of the estates is a final culmination of things, but for the moment the germane issues take preeminence.
But let me begin at the beginning, the prophets of doom who are going forward with their evil predictions must face the facts that they are the ones who closed a thriving industry, near 250,000 tons produced, and brought it down to a level where it is barely limping along. It is a fact they would have to live with for the rest of their lives.
You see, metal, such as iron and steel, has been left idle for near seven years now and much of it is derelict machinery, that has to be rebuilt and/or replaced. It takes money to replace these before a restart of activity there.
There is also the Wales Estate which was scrapped and cannot be replaced. Instead of ploughing the proceeds of that sale back into the industry, the proceeds are unaccounted for or safely said, placed into private accounts.
While all of this is going on, in the fields lay thousands of tons of sugarcane that was left abandoned, all of its sucrose content gone, canes that cannot produce the brown crystals anymore. The canals and farm roads have deteriorated due to years of neglect. The rehabilitation of these infrastructural works will require millions of dollars, with millions more to bring the industry into production mode. In the meantime, our external markets have long turned to other producers. This is the legacy the APNU/AFC coalition has left us.
Now, we haven’t taken into account the human factor, that is, the more than 7000 workers and their families that were displaced and callously placed on the breadline. That human factor index meant nothing to the visionless, rudderless coalition as they blazed a trail of hate and destruction of the very fabric of Guyanese society.
You would recall that those workers were suddenly cut off from employment and income and left to wander. More than a year, those workers were left out of mainstream Guyana, it took the herculean effort of Dr Bharrat Jagdeo to call upon the then Government to pay the workers their severance. Even that did not achieve much as the matter had to be taken to court for the workers to get what was rightfully theirs. So, when the incoming PPP/C Administration gave that $250,000 subvention, it merely marked a pittance payback to our hardworking sugar workers.
But I must hasten to a close, when you analyse the true extent, scope and depth of the damage done to the sugar industry in Guyana, you get the real picture of what the Granger Administration has done to our country. They have pushed our economy decades into retrogression.
It would take years to revive the sugar industry, but we will get there. With external help and direct injection of state capital, sugar will rise again. We look forward with great hope and expectation to that time when sugar will be a success story.