The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) has taken possession of the property that houses Caricom Cement Factory after the accumulation of more than $100 million in owed rent.
NICIL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Horace James said the owner of the factory, which is located in Berbice, has since filed a court action over the decision.
“Because of non-payment [of rent], NICIL has terminated the contract and we are in possession of the property and that is the situation,” James told Stabroek News before informing that the owed rent was for a period that exceeded two years.
According to James, NICIL sent monthly invoices to the company and also gave repeated warnings and legal notices but to no avail. “We did all what we were contracted to do and we give them time and everything,” he said, while noting that promises to pay were made.
According to the CEO, the company was experimenting with different products and the use of rice husks to make cement but “they didn’t come out and start producing and they haven’t paid anything.”
He said that all the company’s equipment and other belongings are still in the building and he assured that its property is secured. “We have security there,” he said.
NICIL took control of the building last October, when employees turned up for work and found the gate padlocked.
Stabroek News had reported in August last year that the factory, which was opened in 2014, was expected to begin the production of cement in two months’ time and was planning to supplement its workforce with sugar workers seeking new employment once the Rose Hall Estate was closed.
According to Director Shaun Lall, the factory was expected to produce 60,000 tonnes of cement annually. Lall had also said that before the end of August last, approximately 100 persons were expected to be employed by the company, and that the number was expected to rise to 500 before the end of December. He had said too that while GuySuCo and the government planned to lease lands to sugar workers to cultivate rice, the company planned to purchase most, if not all, of the rice husks from the rice cultivators as it was seen as crucial for the cement production. Additionally plastic bottles and chipped used tyres were also being sought.
Lall had gone on to explain that a vast amount of energy was needed for cement production and that the company found after conducting several studies and successful trial runs that the plastic bottles and used tyres could be used to assist in generating the heat needed to fuel the kiln to get to the necessary temperature in order to produce the cement.