President ordered massive crackdown on illegal mining at Kaieteur National Park; several arrested, dredges seized- Trotman

Last Updated on Sunday, 28 May 2017, 18:02 by Denis Chabrol

FLASH BACK: President David Granger addressing the opening of the Annual Officers’ Conference of the Guyana Defence Force

Police, soldiers and officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) on Sunday swooped down on the Kaieteur National Park and arrested several persons who were allegedly illegally mining there, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said.

Trotman said the decision to move in at the Kaieteur National Park was taken by President David Granger, who is the Minister of Environment, following an aerial observation of the area. “Some reconnaissance flights show that they had at least fifteen dredges working  illegally at Kaieteur and this was an affront given the fact that only last year we cleared out about six,” the Minister of Natural Resources told Demerara Waves Online News. In that operation, a policeman drowned when a boat capsized while he and his colleagues had been heading to the area.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

The Minister of Natural Resources reiterated government’s position that the Kaieteur National Park is a no-mining zone. “This is the Kaieteur National Park and it’s a protected area. It is one of the strongest symbols of Guyana and there should be no mining in the zone or the buffer zone of Kaieteur and so the President became involved in the matter,” said Trotman. “The order came down that strong action should be taken because, like I said, last year we cleared out that Protected Area.”

Asked why no  enforcement personnel are permanently located at an outpost, he said it is the responsibility of the park rangers to keep watchful eyes on the “mobile dredges” that “pull back beyond the line” whenever word begins circulating that they would be removed by authorities.

“Every time we made checks we found that all was well and some recent reconnaissance flights showed that they were mining illegally and with impunity and their numbers were growing at a very rapid rate,” he said.

Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud and Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Newell Dennison confirmed that there was an operation at the Kaieteur National Park.

Unconfirmed reports are that at least 15 to 20 persons, including many from the Amerindian village of Chenapau, have been arrested and have been flown to Georgetown.