Farmers of Canje, Berbice, are accusing stray catchers deployed in the area of wantonly impounding their animals, even when they are clearly under their watch.
The issue was raised by the residents with attorney and PPP/C MP Anil Nandlall during a visit to the area on Tuesday, when they vented their frustration at the situation.
During the bottom house meeting, which was held at Reliance, East Canje, Berbice, frustrated villagers said the stray catchers have been abusing their power. Some stated that they would be looking after the animals and the catchers would still round them up and impound them. “I bring them animals out of the yard and when me go to lock the gate, be time me look back, them done reach and lock up my goats,” a resident said.
According to Devika Odle, of Adelphi Village, since the beginning of the year, she has paid $38,000 on one occasion and $69,000 on another to have her goats released. The woman also explained that on one occasion, 14 of her goats were impounded, but when she gathered the money to pay for their release, she only received 13 goats. She stated that no one gave her an explanation nor was she reimbursed for the loss.
Another villager said that she ran after the men to tell them that she was present watching the animals, but instead the stray catchers told her not to follow them.
Hardat Sookdeo, of Reliance, said that he has already paid $500,000 to have his animals released so far for the year. While Grafton Maltay, of Cumberland, said since January he has paid close to $480,000. All of the cattle farmers emphasised that most time the animals were being watched when the stray catchers impounded them.
Villagers also sought clarity on the sugar estate impounding animals. In this instance, Nandlall argued that this should not be the case. Residents stated that when the sugar estate impounds animals and farmers pay the fine, they never receive receipts. One man jumped up and said he has paid close to $1M in total to the estate to have his animals released but was never given a receipt on any occasion.
Nandlall advised farmers to take the legal route and offered his assistance.
The situation was also raised yesterday at the regional administration’s statutory meeting by a PPP/C councillor. It was eventually agreed that the councillors will meet with the Commander of ‘B’ Division Ian Amsterdam to further discuss the matter.
Residents, however, are also calling on the central government to look into the matter.