CJIA expansion…Workers attack Chinese managers over “non-payment”
By Latoya Giles
Angry workers who were contracted to create an access road at the back of the airport as part of the expansion project, had to use force against Chinese managers who refused to hand over their salaries yesterday. According to several workers, they had not been paid for over a month.
Foreman for the workers, Mahendra Surgrim, told Kaieteur News that he signed a contract with Chinese national, Wei Jiang, called “David” earlier in June. According to Surgrim, the original agreement was for him to create 500 meters of “roadway” so that machines such as high powered drills could be brought through the heavily swamped area. All of the works that have started at the back of the airport are part of a feasibility study underway.
“De contract say we had to create 500 meters of roadway…plus six cross roads at 70 meters each,” Surgrim told Kaieteur News. The man explained that he was given a $160,000 at the beginning when works started in June.
An additional $300,000 was given to him some time after. The foreman said that the remainder was supposed to be given to him yesterday, so that he could pay his workers.
However, when the manager, Jiang, came at the worksite yesterday he told Surgrim that he would not be paid.
“They come yesterday and told us that we can’t get paid because we have to do maintenance work…That is not part of the contract,” the man told Kaieteur News.
Angry workers started to attack the Chinese nationals who had to retreat to a waiting vehicle. There are reports that one of the managers were chopped. Angry workers yesterday said that they will be seizing equipment from the Chinese if they were not paid.
“They gotta learn that we ain’t fools…we can’t work so long and then they going to decide not to pay us,” one worker told Kaieteur News.
The project is being done by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), at a cost of US$138M. China Harbour through its parent firm China Communications Construction Company had been debarred by the World Bank, under its Fraud and Corruption Sanctioning Policy.
China Habour has argued that the blacklisting was inherited from the previous owner of the construction company which was taken in 2005.