Written by Devina Samaroo
Members of the National Mining Syndicate earlier today (Tuesday, May 30, 2017) reiterated their frustrations and corruption concerns in relation with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and called on the relevant authorities to launch a full-fledged investigation.
The National Mining Syndicate is an initiative launched by the government last year to ensure small miners are properly represented and to get access to lands and concessions afforded to large-scale miners in the industry.
However, some miners have been waiting for years for mining lands and are growing frustrated by the failure of the authorities to address their concerns and to provide guidance to the sector as was promised.
Former Parliamentarian and Chairperson of the Karrau Mining Syndicate, Julia David Blair told reporters on the protest line that “We want a full fledge investigation and shuffling at GGMC…We need for this government to investigate. We calling on SARU (State Assets Recovery Unit), we calling on SOCU (Special Organised Crime Unit) to come in and help us investigate so that we can acquire the lands that we are asking for.”
She argued that “On the board you have executive members of GGMDA who are getting lands. You cannot sit on the Commission and be an executive member and apply for land; and rent GGMC a house for $2m. It is conflict of interest. We are in a corrupt situation.”
She was also perturbed about the denial of access to lands at Parish Peak for members of the Berbice Syndicate.
“I cannot understand the Minister sending a letter saying that they cannot have the land because the land is reserved, but then in that same area 58 mining licenses were given out…Mining is already going on in that area and it shouldn’t be a problem for the Berbice Syndicate to get that land,” she posited.
David – Blair along with other members called on the relevant authorities to reconsider the land at Parish Peak for the Berbice miners.
Vice Chairman of the Berbice Syndicate was also upset about the denial, especially since a significant sum of money was expended.
“We made the application and paid the money, they (authorities) accepted the money and about a month after, we got a response saying it was a reserved area …If there is not much corruption here, at the very beginning from the time we paid our money you should have said that it was reserved,” he asserted.
Miners travelled from as all across the country to stand in the protest line in front of the GGMC and the Ministry of Natural Resources to vent their frustrations.
According to one miner, “we ain’t getting land. Plus the road bad and we want the road do. We got a lot of children and the children starving just like we and we ain’t getting land to work. We need our land for work.”
The miner posited, “if we can’t get place to work then we can’t vote. No land, no vote.”