High fuel prices and a rumoured increase in royalties are just two of the contributing factors that has resulted in pit operators instituting an across-the-board increase in sand prices.
The move is not sitting well with the truckers, who have to now jack up their prices to clear operational costs.
The increased price for the mineral has resulted in a load of sand now attracting, in some cases, $4,000 to $5,000 more than what it previously cost secondary consumers – contractors and prospective homeowners.
Last Saturday, several truckers made contact with the Guyana Standard to vent their frustration over the untimely increase. The truck operators lamented that the increase was done without prior consultation; leaving no elbow room for negotiations.
With many opting to protest this morning at the various sandpits along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, some have already given up on the opportunity to take a stand. Protest actions have become watered down by some truckers’ need to generate income to satisfy loans, or to take care of their families.
While many have embraced the new prices noting that “money gah mek”, others are not yet prepared to bend over backwards. In fact, one trucker told the Guyana Standard that some of his colleagues have already begun forming a committee with hopes of meeting government officials to have the matter addressed.
The decision has resulted in sand prices at several pits seeing an almost 100 percent increase.
Speaking with a pit operator earlier today, the businessman who identified himself as Mohammed or “Coolie Boy”, said that the decision was taken by all the sandpit operators following a meeting some two weeks ago.
Mohammed, who has been in the business for more than six years, noted that it was high time for the prices to be increased. He noted that competition along the Highway, would have resulted in the cost for sand being “runned down”. This tactic of selling sand cheaper than other competitors was advantageous since truckers would naturally flock to the pit that sells the cheapest.
However, the increase fuel prices changed everything.
Mohammed said that with the price of diesel now almost tipping the $220 per-litre-mark at the pumps, operational costs have skyrocketed at the pit. He added that the same is being experienced by other pit operators.
The businessman said also, that there was a recent increase in spare parts.
“Everything raise. Before time, you could have allowed for the competition but now you can’t. Truck men enjoyed it for a while but we the pit operators have taken a decision to increase the price because we have royalties to pay, one (loader) wheel alone, is $500,000. When I finish paying my workers and covering my costs, it works out to $500 per truck. I make $500 per truck and it’s about 50 trucks that come to get sand. Then left out, I have to buy land from people to extend the pit. It is about $1.5M per acre,” Mohammed said.
Asked whether the increased sand price has anything to do with the authorities asking for an increase in royalties, the operator responded, “That’s the rumour we hearing. That they will increase the royalty to $100,”
Pit operators, he noted, usually pay between $11 and $16 royalty on every tonne of sand obtained from the lands.
Efforts to confirm whether there will indeed be an increase, were futile as calls to the mobile telephone of the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Newell Dennison, went unanswered.
Unanswered too, were the six telephone numbers listed as contact numbers for the GGMC.