Residents of Port Kaituma, Region One, will be able to sustain their livelihoods, as new mining lands will be opened for miners to operate in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
On Wednesday, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman visited the community and announced that more mining lands will be made available for residents to continue their mining activities. According to the Government Information Agency, he was accompanied by Minister within the Ministry, Simona Broomes and Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe.
The visit was as a result of a promise made to a resident who requested that the ministers with the responsibility for natural resources visit the community, since there were a lot of issues with mining and lands.
Minister Trotman noted that once new lands are made available, it will make way for commerce and trade and more importantly, persons will earn. He however, urged that this activity be done in accordance with the mining laws of Guyana.
“Mining is the life blood of this community and Minister Broomes and I are putting aside some lands for you to mine, we are opening new lands for you to mine…Within a matter of weeks we will be back here to discuss with you the opening of the new mines,” he assured the residents.
During the meetings, held at Canal Bank, Four Miles and Fitzburg, the residents raised several concerns. Annie Smith, a member of the Port Kaituma Forest Producer Association said that over the past two years, the association was hardly able to market its produce, and so was unable to garner the funds to pay the taxes at the end of the year.
Minister Trotman committed to lowering the fees owed so that the Port Kaituma Forest Producer Association will be able to get a fresh start and continue to produce and market their materials.
“This is the year of Jubilee; it is the year of liberation and starting over…So we are going to be waiving some of the penalties to give you a fresh start, we are giving miners and loggers a fresh start,” Minister Trotman told the residents.
The Minister said that for too long, Port Kaituma has been neglected. “It is time that we fix it together,” Trotman said, adding that the people of Port Kaituma deserve better because they would have worked hard and would have sacrificed and contributed to the development of Guyana.
The community is equipped with a secondary school and a number of primary and nursery schools, a hospital, health centers, a police station, a bank, and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) office.
According to Minister Trotman, while the community is equipped with all these facilities, it does not stop there. He said it is the duty of the government to provide a better life for the people.
Trotman also used the opportunity to encourage the residents to exercise their democratic right to vote at the Local Government Elections on Friday March 18. “It is not only about having National Elections, but that every three years we have Local Government Elections because the Central Government alone can’t stay in Georgetown and run this country,” Minister Trotman explained.
He said that Government will not only ensure that the roads are rehabilitated from Port Kaituma to Baramita, but it will ensure that order is restored, the internal roads are paved, and persons have safe running water, and that the environment is cleaned.
Meanwhile, residents raised concerns about persons working for mining operators who are not being paid for months. Minister Simona Broomes said that she has received some of these complaints and has already forward them to the Ministry of Social Protection.
She referred to such practices as “exploitation” and said mining operators will not work persons, not pay them and then expect to benefit from duty free concession or even register their company. “Workers will be paid first because that is exploitation, it is unfair and it must stop,” Minister Broomes emphasized.
Port Kaituma is located within the Matarkai sub-district of Region One, has a population of over 5000, and is surrounded by communities including, Canal Bank, Oronoque, Citrus Grove, Fitzburg Estate and Four Miles. This main economic activities are mining and small scale logging and farming.