by Alva Solomon
A group of Aishalton women Wednesday afternoon congregated at a section of the Region 9 community to stop an excavator from venturing into the gold-mining areas at the Marudi mountains.
Reports are that during the mid-afternoon hours Wednesday , the women banded themselves together and stopped the driver of the heavy duty equipment belonging to the Mulgravian Mining Company ,from passing through the Amerindian community.
Members of the group were resolute in their position to prevent the equipment from passing and after the hour-long standoff , the excavator was driven to the police station at Aishalton where it remains parked this evening. The driver of the vehicle informed residents that he had permission to pass through the community but villagers noted that they were unaware of any permit which suggest otherwise.
In a letter addressed to Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud last month, the residents who met at Karudanawa, South Rupununi to address the mining company’s operations , informed that the entity should cease its operations at Marudi Mountains on several grounds.
These included, among other concerns , that there had been no consultation between the company and the residents of surrounding communities regarding the latter’s operations there, even though officials of the firm had been traversing the area for several months.
They said too that personnel attached to the company had been moving around the community of Aishalton and other areas with high-powered weapons which had been displayed in a ‘reckless and brazen’ manner. Also , trails and tracks usually utilized by the residents to hunt and gather fruits, fish and other traditional foods have been blocked by the company with gates and chains attached.
They said too that locals have not been offered employment by Mulgravian; the company bluntly mentioned that it will not offer employment to Amerindians.
The residents added that the company has polluted the Kuyuni River which is used by the Wai Wais for fishing and residents also refuted allegations made by the entity’s superiors that the women of the area were planning to injure personnel at Mulgravian using bows and arrows.
Residents of communities in the area had expressed concern about the mining licenses issued by the authorities to large scale mining companies to operate in the area. They noted that the move by the authorities had lack consultations between the companies and the villages there, many of which depend heavily on the precious metal to secure their livelihoods.