The soot produced by the Uitvlugt Estate chimneys on the West Coast of Demerara has been affecting residents in nearby communities, polluting the water that is used for drinking as well as the general environs. The issue has been plaguing the areas for some time, but now it is unbearable.
This publication visited several affected residents on Saturday, who raised concerns regarding the issue, pointing out that households are specifically affected during the beginning of the crop season since the dust settles on every surface. It was indicated that this matter was caused by a decision to shorten the length of the chimneys.
In Tuschen Housing Scheme, Marcia Sandy explained that the soot and dust-like particles have been an issue for some time. Every day, she is forced to close all windows to prevent the particles from entering her house.
“Since I came here to live, it’s very dusty. I don’t really have the place open. If you notice, all my windows are down because the dust gets inside, especially through the back door. I would observe it coming from there as well,” Sandy shared.
The dust is also trapped on clothing hung outside, which warrants a second washing.
“The soot would fly and it affects me. I would have to be sweeping very often because of the blackness and it also affects my clothing. When I wash my clothes, sometimes I have to rewash the whites because the dust would capture on the clothing. It dirty the clothes. This has been happening since I came to live here, which is about two years now,” the affected woman added.
Meanwhile, Chandradeo Ramsamooj explained that the burnt matter pollutes the water that is stored for drinking purposes. In many households, families utilise the rainwater for drinking but this has become contaminated. The man said he has established a makeshift unit to prevent the dust from entering his water tank, since it is expensive to purchase water for both cooking and drinking.
“We does use the rainwater and the dust going onto the roof. When the rain fall, it going into the tank. I put something to strain it but how much that can help? We using the water to drink and can’t afford to buy water but that’s about it. Something have to be done,” Ramsamooj shared.
Meanwhile, Nazia Mohammed said she has been purchasing water because she has toddlers in her household.
“The dust flying and going into the tank with drinking water, going into the gutters and so on. We used to use it to cook so right now we buying water to do everything. We have to be cleaning the house, the yard, the gutter and so on,” she shared.
Another resident also shared that the current situation is unhealthy for children. He has joined the calls from other persons for the relevant authorities to alleviate their distress.
He expressed, “I am really fed up of this dust. Everyday couple hours, I have to be sweeping and wiping thick dust coming from the Uitvlugt Estate and no one seems to be doing anything about the situation. Many of us depend on rainwater to cook but we can’t use it anymore as it is very dirty. This puts an additional burden to buy water to cook. I hope the Government and GuySuSo will look into this issue. It is not healthy for anyone, the kids are affected also. I plead on the authorities to look into the matter and do something urgently to address this problem. We can’t take this situation anymore.”
When contacted on Saturday, Agricultural Minister Zulfikar Mustapha pledged his assurance to get abreast with the current issues facing residents. He indicated that the Guyana Sugar Corporation will also be engaged on the matter, in an effort to have it addressed.
“If there is an issue there, we will have to look at it. I will ask GuySuCo to look at it since it’s affecting residents,” the Minister assured.