Residents and Entrepreneurs on the southern belt of the breadbasket parish of St. Elizabeth are feeling the crunch as operations at the Alpart bauxite plant continue to slow down.
In recent weeks, close to 400 temporary workers have been laid off.
The new owners of the plant Jiuquan Iron and Steel, JISCO, and the government have also announced that the company is delaying the upgrade of the refinery until next year.
Even more fear of communities returning to ghost towns in St.Elizabeth is gripping a wide cross section of the parish as the uncertainty of Alpart’s future hangs in the balance; those who’ve lost their jobs are suffering.
Tauna Thomas journeyed to St. Elizabeth this week and files this report.
Hope came for many back in 2017 when all the lights at the over 40- year-old plant were turned on again.
A buzz of increased commercial activity returned to the communities in and around Nain, St. Elizabeth where Alpart is located.
Several residents welcomed the reopening and happily accepted job opportunities marching into the big complex daily with yellow helmets in hand, now there’s a very contrasting scene in St. Elizabeth.
The dismissals and slow down in operations at the plant is affecting former workers, current employees and the business community.
Donhue Johnson was laid off recently. He lives in Prospect near to Alpart’s belt line.
He says losing his job is making it difficult for him to prepare his children for school.
Two other former employees are Miguel Smith otherwise called ‘Meggy’ and Leroy Morris.
Smith and Morris are older men than Johnson who were tasked with maintaining the Alpart belt line in the Prospect area.
Smith says his savings is depleted because he has no source of income to cover his daily expenses.
Morris also told Nationwide that he made a small investment but will now suffer the losses.
Donhue Johnson says it would’ve been more reasonable if management had implemented a pay cut. For those like David Witter who’re still on the job, the uncertainty continues as no one knows when they’ll be next to be sent home.