Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit the Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore estates as efforts are being made to resuscitate operations there. I had heard from others of the sad realities they met when they opened the estates gates and were able to walk around. I told myself maybe the situation wasn’t as bad. But as I set foot on those estates for the first time since their closure at the end of 2017, I recognised the situation was worse than what was described to me.
As I walked through the compounds of those estates I could not help but feel overwhelmed by sadness and then anger as I looked around and recognised the damage that was inflicted on these estates. I saw at Skeldon, for instance, very expensive pieces of machines left in the elements to rot and to be taken over by vegetation. I doubt that those machines can ever be fixed even by some of GuySuCo’s skilled artisans who can do wonders. At Enmore I saw with my own eyes, how equipment was apparently chopped up and stripped away and seemingly carted off. I learnt at Enmore that several pieces of equipment cannot be accounted for as it appears to have vanished.
I learnt too that at Enmore despite extensive checks hundreds of steel punts have disappeared. As I walked through those estates, I wondered what really transpired and how could millions, if not billions, of the Guyanese peoples assets just disappear. I wondered whether they were sold off and if the monies can be accounted for? As I walked through those estates I felt the pain that people faced was extended to the assets they cared for and kept working despite adversity. As I walked through the closed estates, I saw former staff compounds which were once teeming with life reduced to deserted wastelands. I saw beacons of hope reduced to machine graveyards. It was an awakening call for me.
Never have I ever in my many years in the sugar industry seen assets, owned by the people of our great nation, treated with such disdain, disregard and disrespect. Clearly those who superintended over the state of affairs must be made to answer. They cannot be allowed to remain in their cushy jobs with fat perks. They have violated the trust of the Guyanese people as they stripped fully functional estates of many assets. Clearly, those who played a leading role must be called to book. I have heard the President himself saying public officials must answer, and I believe those who led NICIL-SPU are responsible and must give account of their actions and if guilty of any wrongdoing must face the consequences. However, as despondent as I was when I visited the estates, my hopes are buoyed. I have confidence in the workers and the managers appointed to reopen the closed estates. I have seen in the past how our collective efforts have led us out of the darkest tunnels and have seen now the commitment to right the wrongs. I am confident that we, once more, we will overcome the obstacles more imbued to become stronger and better.
Seepaul Narine, M.P.