Closure of sugar estatesBy Shemuel FanfairSugar workers attached to the soon-to-be-closed Enmore Estate have registered their distress for the financial challenges that they stand to face in the coming months.On Tuesday, Guyana Times met with a group of community members at a small market at Enterprise, East Coast Demerara (ECD), who highlighted their worry over the entity’s closure. In fact, a few sellers in the area noted that community members have already begun to reduce their spending, which is having early far-reaching effects to them. This scenario mirrors that of Wales, West BankRampersaud PrashadDemerara last year when residents there had also reduced their purchasing of goods upon the announcement that the Wales Sugar Estate would shut down.Speaking with this publication, Rampersaud Prashad, the Estate’s Field Secretary, noted that he built his home from his earnings as a cane cutter. He has worked with the Estate for 33 years.“Everybody was sad, hearing about closure; everybody depend on sugar, from Ogle to Cane Grove. We have 2300 persons working at East Demerara Estate (Enmore). When the Estate closes, where [can] people get jobs – families are going to break up; market people will not get sales; a lot of people at the Estate owe mortgage,” highlighted the Estate’s Field Secretary.“This announcement which Agriculture Minister Noel Holder made is not a wise decision. I think he should pack up and go, and the President needs to intervene in this matter,” Prashad further stressed.Fellow worker and father of two, Mayaram Sundar also noted the hardships his family would face. The harvester, who has been employed for 19 years, told“Tolly” has four children attending schoolGuyana Times that without a job, his son’s education may be held up if he could not find the means to support him. He also suggested that severance pay was a temporary benefit.“If you say you will pay severance, how long will the severance last?” Sundar stressed.“Tolly”, a greens and provisions vendor and mother of six, stressed that she was already facing challenges. She stated that four of her children were in school, with a daughter writing her CXC exam and a son writing his in 2018, months after the Estate will close.“I have six children to maintain and [buying and selling greens] is the only thing I does do here. I got children going to school; books very expensive and passage for them to go to school, so I would like if the Estate could not close down,” she appealed.“I got bills to pay and the things not selling, because the Estate closing…people stop buying, since Saturday the stand is there…if the estate close, the [workers] can’t buy, so we [wouldn’t] have no income to come from here… [Minister Holder] shouldn’t close down the Estate ‘cause it’s a lot of workers who’re supporting we out here,” “Tolly” posited.”Nandanie Deosurran, another vendor, called on the President to look into her plight, saying that the Estate should not be closed.Speaking on behalf of young people in the community, a self-identified youth leader in Enterprise and a union secretary, Romel Putulall, also noted the hardships which would befall wide cross-sections of residents in variousRomel Putulallcommunities in the Estate’s environs.“We got workers from Victoria, Bachelor’s Adventure; Golden Grove workers; Plaisance workers will be affected, BV workers and other Afro-Guyanese communities where workers are from, so if the Government and other people feel it’s victimising Indian people, it’s not that,” Putulall claimed.“We need to oppose the closure of Enmore Estate; sugar has a future…I think President Granger, who some say is a good man…should look back at his Ministers and think about removing them, because they are the ones who will make him fall and right now in terms of sugar, Minister [Noel] Holder [should be removed],” expressed Putulall.He also noted that many young persons who were not fortunate to garner an education were able to gain employment from the Estate.“If you close the Estate, where would you put these young people who have no education and no other sort of job training,” he saidHe further highlighted that the majority of workers at the Estate were above the age of 45 and suggested that they would find great difficulty in altering the course of their employment.“What would happen to the minibus men, the school sellers, DVD and greens sellers…every single thing will be affected in our community?” he questioned.Much akin to the events leading up to the end of sugar operations at Wales last year, a number of activities have been planned to voice opposition against Enmore’s closure. These include vigils, afternoon marches, and public meetings.ClosureThe announcement of closure was made by Agriculture Minister Noel Holder on Monday when he presented the white paper on the future of the industry to Parliament. Holder told the National Assembly by the end of 2017, the Corporation will have three estates: Blairmont on the West Bank Berbice, Albion-Rose Hall in East Berbice and the Uitvlugt-Wales estate in West Demerara. “…the Enmore Factory will be closed at the end of 2017 when all cane would be harvested. The East Coast Estates would be earmarked for diversification,” the Minister had stated.
La Liga leaders Barcelona have signed centre-back Yerry Mina from Palmeiras for a fee of 11.8 million euros ($14 million), the club confirmed on Thursday.The Colombia international will sign a 5-1/2 year contract with the Spanish side. The 23-year-old made made 33 appearances for Palmeiras over the last two seasons, helping them win the league title in 2016. He also won the Copa Sudamericana with former club Santa Fe.”Yerry Mina now comes to Barca with the opportunity to continue developing as a footballer following his move to Europe. Without a doubt the Colombian has the potential to make it,” Barcelona said in a statement on their website. (www.fcbarcelona.com)WATCHThe addition will provide some respite to the Catalan side as Spanish media reports suggest that veteran Javier Mascherano is close to leaving to join Chinese side Hebei China Fortune.Mina’s contract at Barcelona has a termination clause worth 100 million euros.WENGER SANCTIONS COQUELIN SALE Francis Coquelin is leaving Arsenal to join Spanish side Valencia, the Premier League club’s manager Arsene Wenger has said.The midfielder, who has scored three goals in 160 appearances for Arsenal since his senior debut in 2008, has struggled to get games this campaign and featured in just seven league matches, coming on as a substitute in six of them.”He goes to Valencia. He didn’t get enough games with us this season. He had an opportunity. I let him go,” Wenger said after Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea.British media reports say that the La Liga side have agreed a deal worth around 12 million pounds ($16.20 million) for the 26-year-old Frenchman.(With inputs from Reuters)ALSO WATCH: advertisement