Lindeners decry high unemployment rate

…call for reopening of call centre

While the Linden Call Centre in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) remains closed, two years after workers were sent home, several companies and individuals have since expressed interest in conducting business there, however the building which is termed “State property” has since remained inaccessible.
This continues to be a cause for concern for both residents and officials in the community noted for its high unemployment rate. Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland recently joined the rest of the community in making calls for the centre to be reopened, citing the unemployment rate within the community.
“The call centre at Kara Kara needs to be reopened, and I’m making this call to those who are directly responsible… to release the call centre to the people of Linden so that we can employ at least 500 of our young people who are looking for jobs. There are several persons who’ve signalled their interest and I’m still waiting to hear what’s the hold up,” the Mayor said.
During a recent ministerial outreach in Linden, officials expressed these concerns to Finance Minister Winston Jordan. Municipal Councillor Neola Rogers, who first spoke of the issue, noted that the call centre had provided employment for many young women in the community and served as an excellent entry requirement into the world of work, while she stressed difficulty in accessing the building which remains closed since 2015.
“…several call centres want to return to Linden but the building is locked. It’s deteriorating as it is right now…” Rogers lamented. Representative of the Linden Chamber of Commerce Industry and Development, Staydon Payne, also said the issue lies with Government providing access to the State asset, as he sought to find out how access can be gained for a company that wishes to expand and employ approximately 100 young people within the community by December.
In response, Minister Jordan noted that the building is supposedly owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). However, Chief Executive officer (CEO) of NICIL, Horace James, who also spoke at the outreach, explained that following an application, the building was privileged to be handed over the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN); however, he asked for the Finance Ministry’s intervention in terms of payment necessary for acquiring the building.
After years of being in operation, St Kitts-based company Toucan Connection shut down its operations through the call centre two years ago. As a result, over 90 people, mainly women in the community, lost their jobs.
Since then, officials have tried to have the operation up and running again to provide much needed employment to Lindeners.
The Linden call centre, which was closed in September 2015, was opened under the previous Administration to create jobs for Lindeners. The closure sent a hard blow for to the community as a result of scarcity of jobs.