In Guyana, Lindeners have been protesting a proposed hike in electricity tariffs since July 18 and have virtually shut-off traffic to the gold-mining interior and other communities by maintaining roadblocks despite security forces efforts to remove them. The protest escalated after three protestors were fatally shot by police. Several buildings, including one belonging to PPP activist Phillip Bynoe, were set ablaze in Linden in another round of violence on Friday, which, according to the Guyana Times, “will likely further isolate the community.” Meanwhile, President Donald Ramotar appealed to Lindeners to halt their protest, saying that they are being led astray by “extremists.”
Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) is of the view that if the Linden situation is not resolved soon, the result could be serious, as there are hundreds of jobs at stake and potential investment in the mining industry is being hindered as a result of the current occurrences in Linden. “People are losing their jobs…I believe we are approaching the tipping point if this problem does not end within the next 24-48 hrs the result could be serious… we understand that Toucan Connections has decided to lay off its employees… BOSAI, which had a massive investment plan, is thinking again because they cannot even get their managers into the plant,” chairman of the PSC Ronald Webster explained. Webster, Clinton Urling of the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Carvil Duncan of the Guyana Labour Union on Monday evening spoke of the impact and consequences of the protest action on the programme titled ‘Issues in the news’ on the National Communications Network.
Webster explained that the PSC is the apex organisation for the chambers of commerce, and the tourist industry amongst others and as such would receive feedback from a much broader base. “There is a lot of potential investment in mining, a lot of it will require a route through Linden to access mines… as it is the most economic way to transport equipment…a problem in this nature is reflected on the stock exchange of USA and Canada so immediately it begins to impact investment in Guyana,” Webster said. He also explained that the current situation in Linden is negatively affecting the country’s image, as those overseas will not localise but rather nationalise the situation.
The PSC chairman added that the situation will have terrible repercussions, and unfortunately those will suffer are Lindeners, especially those who do not have the capacity to absorb the shock. [. . .] “Most businesses in the mining areas and Regions 7, 8 and 9 had to find alternative means which meant an increase in cost…some had to rely on air or water ways,” Urling lamented. He added that, as a result of the situation, other businesses have started to lose some contracts as they have obligations to their international customers which they cannot meet. Duncan said when the Linden situation started; the workers were not against paying the increased tariff on electricity bill but, asked for the introduction of the rates to be gradual. [. . .]
Lindeners on July 18 began what was meant to be a five-day protest that turned ugly, with three persons shot dead during clashes between the protestors and the police. Several buildings were razed and many motorists have suffered at the hands of protestors by having their vehicles set alight, tyres damaged and exorbitant tolls demanded for passage. Toshaos travelling to the city were chased back and were made to detour through Bartica to attend the sixth National Toshaos Council Conference [. . .].