Timber operators suffering heavy losses due to worsened interior roads — GMSA

first_imgSmall, medium, and large scale logging companies are experiencing significant losses of revenue as a result of the interior roads having been made deplorable by the extended rainy season.This is according to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), which, in a statement on Thursday, express concerns over the situation, saying that the extended rainy season has seen the condition of the hinterland roads worsened across the country.This, the GMSA highlighted, is as a result of failure to maintain the interior roads prior to commencement of the rainy season. It was noted that the deplorable condition of the road is affecting not only the forestry sector, but the mining, tourism and trade industries as well.According to the GMSA, at least 100,000 cubic metres of logs destined for delivery to markets cannot be transported, and as a consequence, many value-added manufacturers are complaining about the lack of raw material, which in turn isThis truck was stuck when a bridge along the road between Mabura Hill and Kurupukari collapsedaffecting exports.This unfortunate situation, the GMSA added, has resulted in significant social and economic impacts, with some companies having to stop production completely.“Revenues of many timber companies are down by 50% and more, and (this) has an adverse effect on employment. Skilled workers are being sent home, or the workforce being downsized due to the worsened condition of the roads. There are [also] many small-scale loggers who are unable to stop working because of their financial commitments, and such operators are putting their lives in danger and causing damage to their limited equipment,” the association posited in its statement.Furthermore, the GMSA outlined that as much as 30% of cost of production in the forestry sector is transport-oriented, with the maintenance of the interior road network being undertaken by large forest concessionaires, which in turn has been driving production cost for large operators.In fact, it was noted that holders of Timber Sales Agreements (TSAs) are spending an average of US$14,000 to construct one kilometre of forest road and another US$5,000 for maintenance, without any support from Government.To this end, the GMSA is calling on Government to take urgent action to repair and maintain interior roads. The Association also wants a comprehensive programme of ongoing road maintenance to ensure quality and standard are maintained.The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRE) announced last month that a series of works are expected to be undertaken to upgrade the hinterland road network, but these works will commence after the rainy season. Some six contracts to the tune of over $650 million have been awarded for the maintenance of the Rockstone-Mabura, Kurupukari-Annai-Lethem and Linden-Ituni-Kwakwani roads.The Ministry had said these roads have been identified following discussions with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, miners, and forest operators who had decried the condition of the roads as an impediment to their production efforts.“Ultimately, it is Government’s intention to assist miners and foresters to achieve and maintain high yields of production, and as has occurred in the past, the intervention became necessary. Concerns raised by hinterland residents during outreaches conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources also guided the decision by Minister [Raphael] Trotman to see the re-engagement of the Ministry of Natural Resources in hinterland roads maintenance,” the June 1 press statement had outlined.However, small operators have complained bitterly that the trail is becoming increasingly impassable as a result of heavy rains, and this condition is further compounded by the operation of heavy-duty vehicles.To this end, there have been calls for the authorities to suspend heavy duty vehicles from traversing the trail until the rainy season is over.“We are suggesting — as small operators –for the suspension of especially the log trucks or the trucks moving timber (from) the interior; to suspend them until the rainy season stops. Because they are the ones that are destroying the bridges with the weights they are carrying. The bridges were not designed for those weights. Otherwise the whole road is gonna be locked off when the bridges are destroyed, and then nothing would be able to pass,” one bus operator had said to <>.Since commencement of the rainy season, several key access bridges in the hinterland have collapsed as a result of heavy-duty vehicles. The most recent has been the Mile 33 Bridge, which is located between Mabura and Kurupukari along the Linden/Lethem Trail. That bridge was repaired last week after collapsing two weeks prior when an overloaded truck attempted to cross.The Yamatawao Bridge in South Rupununi, and the Christmas Bridge located close to the Kurupukari Crossing had also collapse as a result of overweight and heavy-duty vehicles.The Public Infrastructure Ministry has since cautioned drivers of these vehicles to adhere to weight limits, warning that breaches resulting in the destruction will see them having to incur repair expenses.last_img read more