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Govt to partner with stakeholders to upgrade Puruni road

– to acquire land for model consolidated log yard

On the heels of a meeting between Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat and Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) President Rafeek Khan, it has been announced that the Government will take various measures aimed at, among other things, boosting production in the forestry sector.
In a statement following the meeting, it was explained that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government plans to collaborate with stakeholders to upgrade the Puruni road in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
The constraints that affect the supply and demand of raw materials to wood-based manufacturers to support the growing construction sector were highlighted during the meeting. According to GMSA, Minister Bharrat reiterated the Government’s commitment to ensuring greater production within the sector.
“One of the main challenges to increasing production has been limited access to the forest due to poor road conditions over the past year. The road situation has worsened due to heavy rainfall which we are presently facing,” GMSA said.
Additionally, the Government is also in discussions to build a bridge across the Puruni River which will facilitate greater access on a 24-hour basis. It was explained that there will be no tolls at the bridge.

Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat (left) and GMSA President Rafeek Khan

“Several large-scale forest concessionaires were unable to extract timber in areas such as Puruni where there are vast resources and under-producing for over a decade. It was also noted by the Minister that there would be no tolls at the bridge since the company will assist the Government with the provisioning of the infrastructure then the State will maintain after its completion,” the statement explained.
According to GMSA in its statement, these measures will ensure all infrastructural needs are in place to push to meet the local demand and satisfying the export needs. Further, they also discussed plans for acquiring approximately 30 acres of land on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

This land, according to GMSA, is “to initiate the first model of a Consolidated Log Yard to benefit the forestry sector especially since the emergence of the many challenges linked to climate change such as adverse weather patterns and to further benefit small loggers in their marketing process. Small loggers would have a facility to store their timber products at a central location for easy access to buyers.”
GMSA revealed that they recommended measures be put in place to encourage large scale producers to make their logs more available for local consumption, in an effort to cushion the effects of short supplies of raw materials and the growing demand of timber.
“However, due to the overall challenges beyond control for many operators, it was agreed that we access the situation in the next six months which should be sufficient time for production to increase. Meanwhile, Minister Bharrat has been consistently meeting with all stakeholders including sawmill operators to discuss measures for improvement in the sector.”
“Presently, forest production is less than one-third of its allowable cut which is approximately only one per cent of our total forest. It is also important to note that the GMSA recognised the gap in the skillset of semi-skilled and skilled workers in the extractive sector and notes how it can assist in provisioning support for same,” GMSA explained.
According to GMSA, it was discussed that specific skills training will be provisioned as a joint initiative between the GMSA and MNR to benefit young people across the country and fill the employment gaps at present. This initiative was endorsed by GMSA, who said they will work to ensure this idea becomes reality.
“The forestry sector will benefit tremendously from this initiative for the enhancement of skills within the sector. The GMSA continues to seek meaningful engagement with the Government to benefit businesses and help meet the growing consumer demands,” GMSA further said.