The significant worsening of conditions of access roads “across the regions of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice” is creating conditions bordering on a crisis in the timber industry, according to a release issued yesterday by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA).
So severe is the problem, the GMSA says that impassable roads have resulted in failure to deliver “at least 100,000 m3 of logs destined to markets.“ As a consequence, the release says, ”many value-added manufacturers are complaining about the lack of raw material which is affecting exports.” Some companies, the release says, have been forced to “completely stop production.”
Describing the current weather-related crisis as “one of the worst periods” to face the sector, the release says that the situation has resulted in significant losses of revenue.
The GMSA said that “The failure to maintain the interior roads prior to the rainy season, has led to further crisis and has placed a very bleak outlook for many industries including forestry, mining, tourism, and trade”. It added that as a consequence, “many value-added manufacturers are complaining about the lack of raw material which is affecting exports. This unfortunate situation has resulted in significant social and economic impacts. Some companies have had to completely stop production.”
One consequence of the situation, the release says is that revenues of many timber companies are down by 50% and more, a circumstance that has had an adverse effect on employment. According to the release, “skilled workers are being sent home or the workforce being downsized” as a result of the problem. “There are many small-scale loggers who are unable to stop working because of their financial commitments and such operators are putting their lives in danger and causing damage to their limited equipment,”
The release says that as much as 30 percent of the cost of production in the forestry sector is transport-related so that what it describes as “the poor state of interior forest roads” is one of the most prominent issues affecting the sector. The GMSA says that “the maintenance of the interior forest road network, in many instances, is left to large forest concessionaires, specifically holders of Timber Sales Agreements. (TSAs). This, it says, is “a key factor that has been driving production costs for large operators. According to the release, holders of TSAs are currently spending on average US$14,000 to construct 1 km of forest road and on average US$5, 000 on maintenance of such roads within their concessions without any support from Government.
The GMSA wants “urgent action” from government to repair and maintain interior roads and for there to be a “comprehensive programme of ongoing maintenance to ensure quality and standard is maintained.”