Home Top Stories 3 senior staff fired over Uitvlugt Estate “flying knives” incident
The probe into the ‘knife-shredder’ incident at the Uitvlugt Sugar Estate’s has concluded and three senior staff, including one engineer, were fired.
This was confirmed on Saturday to Guyana Times by a senior official close to the investigation.
Reports are that during the months-long investigation into the incident, sufficient evidence was shown to hold the trio accountable for the situation that occurred in August 2018, when the cane shredder became uncontrollable, sending 64 of 70 knives haywire.
The incident took place just after another – the cane shredder malfunctioned – causing millions of dollars’ worth of cane being left to spoil.
When the factory finally recommenced operations after resolving that issue, it was met with the uncontrollable cane shredder incident that resulted in workers having to flee for their lives as the knives became loose and were sent flying through the air in all directions. As a result of the second incident at the Uitvlugt Sugar Estate, suspicions were raised that the cane shredder had been sabotaged in August, last year.
However, management of that sugar factory along with top officials from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) stated that they could not make that declaration until investigations into the matter had been completed.
These investigations, which were scheduled to have been completed within a three-week period, eventually took about six months to be concluded.
Ahead of this probe which commenced in August 2018, a GuySuCo official had revealed that when the operator starts up the cane shredder machine, the operator is not supposed to start the turbine, but is in fact expected to test-run the knives’ component without the turbine.
However, this procedure was reportedly not followed, and the “trip” was allowed to spin with excessive speed.
The damage to the cane shredder resulted in millions in losses, at the expense of the State. The August 11, 2018 incident also was responsible for the delayed commencement of sugarcane grinding. These difficulties resulted in the second crop suffering a setback.
Officials had also explained that the damaged parts for the turbine, knife shaft and knives were sourced and replaced, and engineers claimed that “all of the necessary safety checks have been carried out on the turbine, as recommended by the manufacturer and as stated in the operations and maintenance manual.”
The knives which went flying are made out of carbon steel and weigh 20lbs each. (Kristen Macklingam)