Why did forestry officers fail to identify washiba among purpleheart seized?

Dear Editor,

As a dedicated and humble logger from the Essequibo Coast, I write to express grave concerns about the rights of small loggers in our country.

On Wednesday 21st June, 2017 three officers from the Supenaam Forestry Station were involved in a raid on 41km Buckhall Road (GPS zin 0290414 UTM 0754693). During the ordeal custody form #018177 was issued, reflecting 50 pcs or 2500BM purpleheart lumber. How-ever, the officers failed to identify 1200BM washiba lumber amongst the purpleheart.

One month has elapsed with no feedback from the Supenaam Forest Station, despite numerous promises. I have visited the Supenaam Forest Station five times and made numerous phone calls during this period. I was always cooperative. Editor, I accept full responsibility for harvesting the lumber on AMS ESS 06/85 (a concession owned by A Mazaharally and Sons). I have three children to maintain and due to financial constraints, I was forced to harvest on AMS ESS 06/85.

On the 21st July, 2017, I once again called the Supenaam Forest Station only to be told by the supervisor that he was instructed by the Commissioner that the lumber had already been sold. As the Commissioner of Forests he should ensure that the fundamental rights of Guyanese are upheld and not violated.

I would like to ask the following questions:

  1. Why was a custody form (illegal harvesting #018177) issued for 2500BM purpleheart lumber found at 41 km Buckhall Road and not for 1200BM washiba and 1800BM purpleheart lumber?
  2. What procedure was used to hand responsibility to Cummings Wood Products Ltd? Why was the producer not allowed to pay the penalty, or why was a public auction not held?
  3. Why is it that despite visiting the Supenaam Forest Station on five occasions and making numerous phone calls I was not informed that there were different plans for the produce? How did Cummings Wood Products gain access to the lumber?
  4. Why is it that the three officers involved in the custody cannot tell the difference between purpleheart and washiba hammer #331? What training are these officers receiving? Yet upon visiting the forest station officers are busy on their cell phones chatting or frequenting the nearby shop.
  5. Why was the producer not given the first option regarding the resale of the produce? (Why was a custody form issued?)
  6. Why are there double standards regarding the penalties for various offences?
  7. Why was the washiba lumber (1200bm) transported to Buckhall landing by an ex-forestry officer; why was the 1800bm purple heart not transported as well?

This trampling on the rights of citizens must be rejected in all its forms. In the face of such a travesty of justice, silence is not an option. I call upon the Commissioner to uphold the rules governing the forestry sector. Citizens should speak up and not wait to become the next victim. Let’s stop this madness now. What message is this sending? We know what happened in the past, and we must never allow this to happen again. The abuse should stop now.

The Commissioner should wake from his slumber.

Yours faithfully,

J John

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