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Ituni residents protest over concessions to outsiders; GFC probing illegal logging

ituni_protest

Angered by what they claimed was unfair granting of logging concessions to persons outside Ituni, loggers on Sunday blocked the main road for several hours.

Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud said the concession granted to one logger has been suspended pending an investigation.

A high-powered team of officials from the Guyana Forestry Commission (GRC) and the Ministry of Natural Resources is expected to meet with aggrieved residents on Wednesday.

It was only after GFC Deputy Commissioner, Tasreef Khan held talks on site and gave certain assurances then that logs and other objects were removed from across the rust-red earthen road and vehicles were allowed to pass freely.ituni_protest2

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several loggers told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that persons from other areas of Guyana are being granted huge concessions while residents of Ituni are being bypassed. Contrary to laid down procedures, a resident said the concessions are not being advertised.

He said the latest granting of a concession to a former GFC officer, whose only name was given as Ricky, sparked off Sunday’s protest.

Another account is that one of Ricky’s employees had allowed unauthorized persons to fell trees from his concession. That allegedly sparked off suggestions that persons houses would be demolished and the community would be closed.

“It is about two weeks now that people haven’t really worked so people can’t take it anymore so people decide to take the streets this (Sunday) morning,” a trucker said.

The Natural Resources Minister said other issues included “the conduct of some of the loggers in the area” , “the need for more areas for the community to log” and “private people have reported them for illegal logging.”

“They had some problem with a concession holder and they said that the concession holder was not respecting the community and they wanted the concession holder to be dealt  with by the GFC.

“At the same time, the GFC had responded to a complaint that members of the community were engaged in illegal logging and had started an investigation so the two things coincided,” said Persaud.

The Minister said that Sunday was the first time that he had learnt of the issue.