Kwakwani residents urged to pursue opportunities beyond bauxite
-opportunities for training available
Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton has urged Kwakwani residents to pursue livelihoods in other sectors to enhance their lives and develop their communities.
The Minister was at the time addressing a small gathering at the Kwakwani Primary School during a recent outreach to several villages in the Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten).
The residents were inquiring about the way forward for bauxite workers since the Russia-owned bauxite company RUSAL suspended its operations over a labour conflict back in January 2020. That impasse resulted in workers who had been laid-off, blocking the Berbice River, preventing the movement of the company’s bauxite out of Guyana.
“You cannot sit down and wait for RUSAL and bauxite. The information I received is that RUSAL might not be back here because RUSAL has been able to get a bauxite operation in Brazil that is more lucrative to them.
They are able to produce bauxite three, four times cheaper than they were doing in Guyana…That’s why as leaders, we have to be careful about decision making,” he said.
Minister Hamilton also said Linden and Region Ten can no longer be regarded as bauxite areas, and that residents must now focus on the other sectors including agriculture, forestry, mining and tourism.
At the same time, he noted that discussions are ongoing between local and international partners regarding taking over the company in the future.
“I had a meeting with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners about mining and they raised that they are engaging people at the level of UK as a conglomerate to put a proposal to the Government. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I don’t know how soon,” he said.
In the interim, the Labour Minister presented to the residents a range of opportunities for skills training through the Board of Industrial Training for youths, women and retirees. These include training in areas such as small engine repairs, mechanics, plumbing, masonry, heavy-duty machinery operation, solar panel repairs, cosmetology, and garment construction.
He also encouraged Friendly Society groups to regularise themselves so they can also benefit from training and access small loans and grants to undertake economic ventures. These groups can also bid for small government contracts.