Puruni miners decry state of roads

…say forced to intermittently halt operations

Mining syndicates in Puruni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) are being forced to suspend their operations at various intervals owing to the nearly impassable roads in the area. They told reporters on Tuesday that the Public Infrastructure Ministry and by extension, the Government must rectify the problem, so they can earn a livelihood without hindrance.

Scenes from the Puruni road in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni)

The Body’s President Cheryl Williams told the gathering that she has been incurring losses along with her fellow miners and noted that she too was forced to suspend her operations, saying that others were also forced to suspend mining. It was explained that the road was “neglected” for over one year and that it has deteriorated over the past several months. In some cases, she noted, persons have been injured.
“The appalling condition of the road affects miners significantly as most miners struggle to transport supplies to keep their operations afloat. Last December, a miner travelling to Puruni was forced to exit his vehicle to walk a portion of the road as the vehicle was wrecked. During that process, the miner suffered a broken leg and was transported to Bartica and then to Georgetown for medical attention,” Williams recalled.
She further explained that while individuals would pay $15,000 to travel by road or $20,000 by water, the prices heighten as the roads worsen.
“The trucks that going in would charge $300,000 to $1,000,000 to get in when the road is bad and you take four to five days just to reach Puruni…we are pleading with the Government, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to fix the Puruni road and rid miners of the trials currently faced to accessing mining areas,” she noted.
Williams met with operatives of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Natural Resources Ministry, the latter of which promised to address the road. She added that the roads are always being discussed at the level of the GGMC.
Another miner, Dana Jones is, however, calling for a full investigation and immediate action into the conditions. “We’re calling for an investigation from the national standpoint because we are miners but human beings as well – we are not dogs,” she stressed.
Another miner observed that the sector is a significant contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The miners have also highlighted the risks involved in using the river to reach their destinations as opposed to land travel.
In images released in the media, some trucks were virtually buried in muddy lakes within the roads and had to be pulled out by other trucks. This is a very risky and life-threating situation which has resulted in injuries to some, the Body said. The Puruni road runs from Itaballi through Papishpou and is said to be the only entrance and exit to various sections of Region Seven.