By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com]– Individual Loggers and several Logging Associations in Region Ten – Linden, Kwakwani, Ituni – have thrown their support behind Chinese logging company – Bai Shan Lin [BSL]; saying the company has done a lot to improve their economic standing.
Bai Shan Lin has been accused of exploitation and indiscriminate logging; a claim that has been refuted at length by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Company itself.
In the face of calls for the company to be shut down, scores of loggers travelled from Region Ten and converged at the Umana Yana; voicing their disagreement with such demands as they pointed to the positive impacts Bai Shan Lin has made.
Among the associations present were: Region Ten Forest Producers Association, Arima Forest and Agriculture Producers Association, Ituni small Loggers Association, /kwakwani Natural Resource Association and the Upper Berbice Forest and Agriculture Producers Association.
It was noted that small loggers in the region have benefited largely by selling logs to BSL and from the market which it has opened up for the now popular log – Wamara.
One Logger said the input of foreign investors was needed to develop the communities in which they operate and scaring them away will only do harm to Guyanese.
Counter requests came from all corners of the packed Umana Yana for Bai Shan Lin to remain and for greater appreciation to be shown for their role here.
Some loggers also requested that the Company to repair roads they have contributed in destroying and make contributions to the social livelihood, health and education of citizens working for them.
Loggers say they anticipate a brighter future with law abiding foreign investors.
Meanwhile, Stakeholder in the Forestry Sector, Colin Bynoe said the company’s involvement in Kwakwani over the last months have seen hundreds of millions investment.
“Kwakwani is buzzing with economic activity because of the Chinese,” he said; adding that “Region Ten needs investment like it needs fresh air.”
He said that loggers are expected to meet with Bai Shan Lin to discuss better market prices for logs sold to them.
Another Logger, Charles Tom said that since Bai Shan Lin began operating in Guyana it has been nothing less than cooperative. He said the company has made the unpopular Warama log popular and gave local loggers a new lease on their logging life.
Tom recognized too that the GFC is “the most diligent and outstanding semi –autonomous government agency” and said nothing should be feared.
Tom said while the company can remain the administration must ensure that labour laws are respected, at least 50% of employees are Guyanese, a new social contract with the community should be developed and small loggers should be given easier access to duty free concessions.
It is with a sense of sadness, a sense of frustration and a sense of despair that I write about the Bai Shan Lin issue and state of the people in Kwakwani and Guyana. I realise, and as I said, poverty breads an expediency that is both detrimental to the poor and the exploiter. What I see happening here is a direct response of a people in poverty, grasping at a short term fix, just like the cocaine junkie, he begs all day for money to buy one bag, for a high lasting only 5 minutes.
Bai Shan Lin is a business whose only aim is to exploit raw materials for a profit, they have brought in machinery to do this quickly and in quantities that will make millions for them alone. Bai Shan Lin is not interested in any value added products being manufactured in Kwakwani, in Linden and the rest of Guyana. Where does that leave the people living in the areas surrounding their operations? What plans are in place for the next 5 years? With that said, let us ask ourselves what is at stake.
What is at stake is the sustainability of our forest resources; it is what will be left after Bai Shin Lin has plundered the forest. For many the argument is this, before Bai Shan Lin we were not making the amount of money we do now. This is the biggest form of myopia I have ever seen. Bai Shan Lin is not going to spend any of its earnings to develop anything positive in the surrounding communities. Many of you who have a vested interest in logging will have nothing to log in 3 years time, you will have a nice time now but in 3 years when you have no Mora and Kabakalli to log, then you will see the folly in your actions today in the future.
Bai Shan Lai is not a good thing for Kwakwani and Guyana; the forest should have been spared for the next generation who will want something to do or to live off when it is their turn. All of you who are in agreement with Bai Shin lin have let your children down. You have become like cocaine junkies, want a quick fix, so you prostitute to have it. At this juncture we need to ask ourselves this, how many jobs have been created for the residence of the surrounding areas? How sustainable is this large scale logging going to be? What next, after is has been mowed down? What will we do for a living?
Ideally, instead of a quick fix, the same land Bai Shan Lin is raping should be given to the people in the area for the sustainable harvesting of logs; this would have been a long term thing guaranteeing jobs for ever. This short term fix will see the end of Kwakwani after Bauxite; it will make sure you have nothing to fall back on.
This whole situation reminds me of the story of Esau and Jacob, when one sold his birth right for a bowl of lentil stew. Not to mention the government has sold the country out for 30 pieces of silver, counterfeit silver. I am pleading with my fellow Kwakwanians and in the broader sense my fellow Guyanese, let these people leave, they are raping you and like any rape victim making you think it is your fault.