Closure of sugar estatesHundreds of workers and businesses in Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) are fearful of an economic collapse following the announcement by Government of the closure of some sugar estates by year-end.Workers are in a dilemma with regard to their future, and those who operate businesses within the estate have already reported that sales have dropped by almost 50 per cent.Following the announcement made on Monday by Agriculture Minister Noel Holder about closing the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, that very day persons started to cut back on spending.Those who operate businesses in the vicinity of the estates have reported that regular customers are now cutting back on spending, while hire car operators report that commuters are forecasting doom.Some of the operators said they may be forced to operate in what would be more lucrative areas and nowhere will be profitable to operate their cars, but if the estate closes, most other businesses will have to downsize.Meanwhile, others who operate in East Canje have forecast hard times. Andy Rohan, who sells vegetables from a car, told Guyana Times on Wednesday, “Once the estate close, it means that me business done, because I depend on estate people.”But the impact is more real for the workers, who depend on the wages they receive weekly. According to Budram Narine, the disposition of factory workers has changed, with most workers demotivated.One businessman said, “We depend on the estate. Once the estate close, it means me business done, because I depend on the estate people. I don’t know what will happen.”Some argue that apart from the negative impact on the commercial sector, major retail businesses in the region will also feel the impact of the pending closure.Guyana Times also spoke with several sugar workers on Wednesday who collectively expressed melancholy over the announcement, stating that they would now have to begin looking for alternative jobs.One worker, Boodram Narine said he and his colleagues were not pleased with the plan to close the estate, because there were fewer job opportunities in Guyana owing to the slowing down of business.Having worked for many years within the industry, Narine said it was sad that the Government would make such a move that has the potential to affect the employment of thousands.Rose Hall Sugar EstateAsked to describe the situation on the ground, the sugar workers said, “They (workers) want know what they will do for a living and it will affect the business people, the community and the hire car.”Another worker who asked not to be named told this publication that he was hopeful that the Government would rescind its decision, given the severe challenges that could result from the closure.He said a protest was being organised, and he would urge not only workers, but Berbicians to come out in their numbers and support the protest, as he believes the closure would affect everyone in the community.“This is the most terrible thing right now for everybody, because when it close down the people who got plenty children, what will happen to them? Without the estate, the situation in Guyana will be bad.”Sugar workers attached to the Enmore Estate have also registered their distress over the financial challenges that they stand to face in the coming months.The National Assembly was told that by the end of 2017, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will have only three estates in operation: Blairmont on the West Bank Berbice, Albion-Rose Hall in East Berbice and the Uitvlugt-Wales estate in West Demerara.