The fertilizer dock should go to the beneficiaries of the original STEPS fund
For the publisher,
With reference to the recent article titled “MARAD Warns of Deplorable Condition of Fertilizer Company Dock,” I want to draw your attention to the fact that MARAD (and the general public) agree that the wharf located at 15-16 Water and Holmes St. is owned and operated by Guyana Fertilizers Ltd. / Amazon Chemicals Ltd. The wharf was indeed built by my father, Asad Ishoof, in the late 1980s and early 1990s to import bulk fertilizer to supply Guyana’s sugar and rice industries. However, due to unforeseen circumstances and a deliberate expropriation plan, the wharf was managed by negligent parties, who had a grip on all matters concerning the facility. Over the next decade, it was allowed to deteriorate to the point that it is almost unrecognizable from the bustling and prosperous international-grade port facility that it once was. No wharf of any kind that would support our new industries or expand local wharf infrastructure if needed, is possible in the current state. Mariners have been warned for years by MARAD to avoid docking at the facility.
Despite multiple efforts to access, assess and perform repairs to the facility, counsel on behalf of the legal representative of the company, Mr. Kashir A. Khan and Mr. Robin Stoby, SC; the wharf trustees and the current stubborn occupier have allowed the wharf to deteriorate to its current unusable state. The wharf retains the properties my father built, but unlike the significant development surrounding the property, no effort has been made to repair, improve or expand the facility. As a result, the wharf has sunk under disinterested management and is no longer of any use for the development of future industries in Guyana. The wharf, long known as “Fertilizer Wharf”, is owned by the Sugar and Trading Companies Pension Plan (STEPS) asset pool which benefits former sugar cane workers. When the wharf was built by my father, the site was a simple “mudflat” because the previous facility had been reduced to ashes. The current wharf was built at a time when there was no transportation for the property, but my father chose to invest in this important sugar industry asset on the understanding that he would have the right to buy the one he had developed.
The intention was that the pension plan would not only have made money from an investor who would have increased the value of their assets, but that by the end of this rebuilding period they would have enjoyed a nice sale. at market value, which would have been an advantage injecting capital that the trustees could have used to increase the financial portfolio of the pension. All this while the asset was used to provide the most profitable and important input to the agricultural sector: fertilizers. This has not happened for many years. As several press reports have noted, the STEPS fund has suffered huge losses over the past 5 years, devaluing significantly and providing little or no support to former GUYSUCO workers. The trustees (and by extension their representative who “squatted” the wharf) violated their legal and contractual obligations to the company for many years; abusing the justice system with spurious allegations and unfounded allegations via an injunction. So much so that it appears to be a predetermined effort to preside over the slow and wanton destruction of this particular sugar industry asset, with undertones of deliberate political malice.
Extrapolating from the recent article, it would appear that the wharf is best served by removing negligent trustees and being returned to the original STEPS fund beneficiaries. I remain committed to fulfilling my late father’s dream of continuing to develop this asset for the benefit of workers in the sugar industry, whose long tenure as the economic backbone of our nation should not be forgotten.
Scheherazade Ishoof Khan