To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

RIPEL Report calls for government intervention to alleviate plight of plantation workers

A report released on the Russell Islands Plantations Limited (RIPEL) late this month has called for Government intervention to alleviate the plight of the plantation workers as the ICSL company has failed to honour its commitment as an investor.

The report compiled by a team headed by the Principal Advisor of the Policy Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office has exposed serious discrepencies on the management of the company.

Since the industrial impasse of 17 June 2004, the Russell Islands Plantation managed by the International Comtrade & Shipping Limited (ICSL) have deteriorated to a point that it would need an input of $15 million to resurrect the company to it former state.

The report says ICSL did not maintain or build any additional housed, did not improve or avail new water sources, build alternative shcools for children, and improve the communication apparatus of the community.

In the absence of these basic commitments, the report states the company did not honour its agreement pertaining to the joint-venture arrangement with the Government, Nation Wide Limited, Lavukal Land Trust Board and the Central Islands Province.

The report emphasised that a new geniune investor is to be sought who will reinstate the plantation estate to its former state.

ICSL, whose licence has been cancelled by the Ministry of Commerce, Industries and Employment earlier this month due to management incapabiltiy, has been categorised as a speculator by the report, and consider the company as an ‘undesirabe investor’.

Since the inustrial standoff in 2004 beetween ICSL and ints employers, medical services to the 900 labours has reached an all time low.

Availbale data during the period indicated sporadic increcreased cases of diarroea, respirotary infection, skin disease and fever cased. Home deliveries at the Ilua local health center has been a major concern to the communities.

This situtation is further excercebated by lac kof infrastructure renovation, drugs and equipment supply, transport and communication services, unhygenic sanitation practices and unsafe coking and drinking water.

The report states this collossal unhygienic situation have proved incetive for breed of curabe disease to become incurable thereby resulting in death tht should be avaoidable.

Despite the government paying school grants of $220 per child per annum to primary schools, parents are expected to fundraise and pay other contributions to the schools.

Since the company has ceased its operations and withdrawn all means of transport wervices to the workers, employers children has to walk 3 to 4 hours to school each day.

The report has pur an immediate request for School in a Box Kits and Recreational Kits from UNICEF to more than five of the schools on the islands, as well as the provisions of water tanks.

The people in Yandina has lived relatively peacefully despite the difficulties they went through. However, threats to attacks by crocodiles is a pressing issue.

The report states community policing is at work in the communities in partnerships with the various stakeholders on the islands such as the Churches and law abiding citizens.

Generally the community policing aspect holds the peace but the delegation highly recommends the services of a Sergant and 8 Police Constables wjho will dilgently divulge their duties around the clock, and the Commissioner of Police has been put on notice by the Delegation.

The report is deals mainly with the proceedingthat will enhance the the workers present situtation in health, educations, logistics, and income generating that is absent since the industrial strike in mid 2004.

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