Questions raised over excavation of loam at Moblissa

-farmer gets replacement plants after damage

A Moblissa, Soesdyke-Linden Highway farmer, who suffered loss of fruit trees and damage to his farm land by a company that extracted loam under dubious permission, is relieved that the company is covering back the excavated area and he has been given replacement plants.

When Stabroek News visited the site of contention on February 17th, it observed an excavator working in the area and Nigel Griffith, the affected farmer, said the company had stopped removing loam and was “trying to cover over the area”. The forty-year-old man also said: “They bring back some plants already. They bring back some cherry and some soursop (plants). They’re supposed to bring some more…”

Griffith became concerned several weeks ago when he observed heavy earthmoving equipment and trucks excavating and removing loam from the 50-acre plot of land that his mother had leased through the Lands and Survey Department. Apart from the destruction of the land, Griffith lost over one hundred cherry trees and about fifty soursop trees that he had planted. “My mother died and left the plot of land for the family,” the aggrieved farmer told Stabroek News. “We’ve been living in this area for years.”

The excavation zone
The excavation zone

He said the company claimed that it was brought in by the Moblissa Community Development Committee (CDC) to do some repair work on the Moblissa Road. “They were given permission to dig loam,” Griffith said. “But apparently they (the company) … go and dig otherwise and I get some plants that get destroyed. We asked them to level back the land and so.”

Reiterating that his mother left 50 acres of land, which she obtained on a 50-year lease, Griffith said that he was not aware of where the CDC had indicated to the company that it could excavate loam but the company ended up digging on his family’s leased land.

Stabroek News was unable to contact Pastor Reynolds, the community leader, for an update on the matter when it visited the community since he was in another area and could not be contacted even by phone.

Region Ten Chairman, Sharma Solomon, had raised the matter several weeks ago when he invited local journalists to accompany him to view the area of contention and hear the concerns of residents. In a telephone

conversation for an update on the situation, Solomon was told by a resident that the company had stopped removing loam and was covering the excavated area. The resident also said “the work is rough and they are not compacting”. The resident expressed additional concern that the company was removing material that Chinese company Baishanlin had previously stockpiled for future repairs on the Moblissa Road. “Most of the stuff that was left by the Chinese is gone,” the resident said, adding that other residents have seen the stuff being carried away – down the highway.

Stating that the Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission Board has been informed that laterite is being illegally removed from the area, Solomon said that Baishanlin had stored almost 30,000 tons of materials at the entrance to the Moblissa community. He said that after the Moblissa Road had been damaged and repaired by Baishanlin, the Chinese company had stockpiled the materials that had not been used for future repairs to the road. According to him, this company, which is from the East Coast Demerara is not only using that material under the pretext of assisting the community but it is also taking that material away.

“So, in essence, what you have is a company that is really removing significant amount of materials. First, illegally from the pit while at the same time presenting environmental concerns to the extent of the destruction of the Griffith family farm … about a hundred cherry trees and about sixty soursop trees. That is what he earns his living from”, Solomon said.