BY SHARIEF KHAN
GOVERNMENT is taking another look at the possible establishment of a hydro-power scheme at Tiger Hill, up the Demerara river, as it seeks to push the development of alternative sources of energy.
“We are looking at primarily the cost,” head of the Guyana Natural Resources Agency (GNRA), Mr. Winston King told reporters on the GBC ‘Face the Nation’ programme.
“We want to find out what will be the cost if we do it today to compare it with some other kinds of development, say, in the Tumatumari and Potaro basins.”
The Eclipse hydro-power project in the Northwest has been discontinued because it “ran into some kind of financial difficulties” King said.
The fresh look at the Tiger Hill scheme is part of an on-going review of hydro-power development and King said the focus has shifted more to mini or micro projects in more remote areas of the country.
Tiger Hill was first mooted by the government of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) in the early 60s but was shelved by the Peoples National Congress (PNC) administration in favour of the ambitious multi-million-dollar scheme in the Upper Mazaruni later abandoned when government could not raise the finance for its construction.
“Finance will always be a problem. We don’t know where we will get it from. If we had it we would do a large hydro-power project now,” King said.
“What we are doing basically for the larger hydro-power projects is to continue with efforts to raise financing.’”
Financing for the mini and micro projects is about 12 – 4M (US) each and GNRA is currently identifying the siting of those.
“We feel we can get much of that finance from a variety of sources that are willing to push the idea of mini and micro hydro- power.”
One project identified for Moco Moco in the Takutu has been estimated to cost under $2M, King said.
It’s Rough going for Cobblers
THE shoemaking industry in Guyana is on the decline and several craftsmen in the business say they’ll soon have to find new ways of making a living if the quality and supply of materials do not improve in a hurry.
Many say they have been forced to resort to shoe repairs only, and even this poses a serious threat to their survival, as prices for the basics skyrocket each week.
Sam Whittaker and his nephew Keith Barnes are examples of this dilemma. They have been in the business for more than a decade Sam 17 years alone in the Stabroek Market.
Whittaker, Barnes and nearly a dozen others interviewed by Stabroek News in the last week, say the quality of leather sold by Guyana Stores Limited is too poor to be true.
“I am not condemning Guyana Stores. It is just that the leather has absolutely no moisture content and it is discoloured. We would like the authorities to do something about it “or else it is no business.”
All the craftsmen say that Delima’s Leather Store on Charlotte Street supplied a much superior quality of locally tanned leather than Guyana Stores, but that firm too, has apparently run into some operational problems.
This has left the industry at the crossroads at a time when a lucrative market in the Caribbean and North America is opening up for Guyana-made shoes, slippers and sandals.
“We have to do repairs alone now. The leather is so hard it breaks knives, bends nails and damages the fingers,” Whittaker and his nephew say. “We want the authorities to know that we need a little more moisture in the leather.”
The leather sells for $18.50 per pound. Nails prices have also jumped from $4 to $8 per ounce. Other prices too rough to cope with, the shoemakers say, include contact cement (pasting) which has moved from a 1987 figure of $18 to $35 and even $80 per half pint.
Many of the craftsmen say they would like to see GSL devise a better sales system that would allow for a more equitable distribution of materials.
Last year’s devaluation of the Guyana dollar has made locally-made shoes, slippers, sandals, cotton garments and other cottage industry products more competitive in the international market. The traders are the main exporting source, but they have also been complaining about the quality of leather products in recent months.
Complaints Of Harrassment Of Guyanese At Piarco
THE Trinidad and Tobago High Commission says it is unaware of allegations of harrassment of some regular Guyanese visitors to that Island.
The Mission’s response came amidst reports Monday, that nine Guyanese, some of them traders were turned back by Immigration authorities after disembarking from a BWIA flight on Monday, March 14.
Mr. Godfrey Naughton, one of the passengers said Immigration authorities there have recently been rejecting Guyanese on the grounds that they take goods to the twin-island Republic that are produced there, causing what they term unfair competition.
Naughton told Stabroek News that Customs officials seem not to have any objection to this and are simply levying duties as is the case normally.
“But the Immigration are the ones who seem to have something against Guyanese carrying goods. They are now standing close to the Customs to see what goods you have and then carry you back and stamp you out.”
He said the nine Guyanese, most of them females, were detained for close to 12 hours at Piarco Airport before being put on a return flight to Georgetown.
Colgate toothpaste and cotton garments appear to be the chief items Immigration authorities seem reluctant to accept.
Naughton says he is unhappy with the treatment meted out to the passengers. Guards were in evidence throughout the night and even ensured they’ boarded the aircraft, he noted.
“We were given no meals and allowed to use the facilities only after strong protest, he said.
The High Commission says no official word has reached it as yet.