Cassava factory…says workers being laid offThe $10 million Cassava Flour Processing Factory in Kwebanna Village, Moruca District, Region One (Barima-Waini) is presently being constructed. It is intended to bring multiple benefits to residents in the area, one of which is employment opportunities.Region One Chairman Brentnol AshleyHowever, residents are now complaining that persons who were employed to assist in the execution of this project have been laid off, and instead workers are being outsourced from their region.Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley, in a telephone interview with Guyana Times on Friday, stated that he has received numerous complaints from residents of the Moruca district about the process the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry and the contractor identified to execute the project.He said that residents, inclusive of Councillors in that District of Region One, have brought to his attention that there appears to be a lack of transparency in the construction process of the factory, and that there is an unavailability of job opportunities for them, contrary to what the Government had promised.Initially, at the commencement of this multi-million-dollar project, Government had stated that employment was created for several villagers who supplied most of the materials being used, with jobs being created for actual construction.However, according to the Regional Chairman, the complaints about the project vary, and one disturbing issue is that residents who were employed as part of the workforce for the factory’s construction are claiming that they have been fired, only to have persons from outside of the region being contracted to perform duties which they are capable of doing.“Several residents, even Councillors of that area, have contacted me about the construction of that cassava factory, and their issues are mainly related to the residents there not benefiting from employment, workers being laid off, and of course workers being outsourced. They are saying that the engineer and contractor for the project (are) only discussing the process with two individuals, as against all of the persons who should be included. They have also raised concerns about financial transactions, payments also,” Ashley told this publication.He added that he is expecting this issue to be resolved in a timely manner, but if need be, a visit by his office to the site would be made soon.When the project was initiated, Government had said that works on the facility began in December 2018, at the cost of $10 million. The funds also catered for the clearing and preparation of 30 acres of land, and the purchasing of cassava sticks for planting. An additional $16 million was allocated this year for equipping the facility, making the total invested by Government $26 million.