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Hururu residents reject draft agreement with RUSAL, insist on further talks

Hururu residents, who had blocked a road and river earlier this year to demand higher compensation and other benefits for their Upper Berbice community, on Wednesday refused to sign an agreement with the Russian bauxite mining company and instead held further talks.

Deputy Village Captain, Victor Walker said he and his delegation were summoned to a meeting at the Amerindian Affairs Ministry to ink the lease agreement between the Hururu Village Council and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), which is majority-owned by Russian Aluminum (RUSAL).

“They had their own proposals prepared for us to sign but we weren’t looking at that. We have to get done in the right and correct way,” he told DemWaves.

The media were invited to the signing at 2 PM Wednesday but eventually waited for close to two hours.

On the deal, Walker expects that BCGI will construct two water wells in six months instead of two years. The community had asked for a third well on the roadside but the company said it could not afford that.

Initially, the Hururu Council had demanded GUY$12 million monthly for BCGI to use the road but had eventually slashed it to GUY$3 million. Now, according to Walker, they have settled for a little over GUY$1 million instead of the company’s offer of GUY$173,000 monthly.

He said the company has given into the community’s demand for a road to be constructed leading down to the waterfront so that loggers can easily transport their produce by road and the Berbice River.

The award of scholarships to secondary school students, the Deputy Toshao said, would be subjected to negotiations between the company and the Council

“We came to a reasonable compromise where both parties looked at the proposal and we decided to go with the proposal,” he said. The Deputy Toshao was optimistic that more progress would be made before weekend.

In April of this year, BCGI’s operations had ground to a halt after residents had blocked ore-laden trucks and bauxite barges from using the road and river. That had prompted RUSAL to threaten to shut down operations and leave the country.