Feb 26, 2013 News
With the government sealing its lips and banning the Chinese construction company from speaking, uncertainty over the Marriott Hotel project has now shifted to the identity of the workers.
Reports reaching Kaieteur News indicate that as is the case in other countries, the construction workers could in fact be Chinese convicts, but the authorities are offering no clarification on this and other issues surrounding the building of the hotel.
Winston Brassington, the man who has spearheaded the Marriott deal, said he was offering a “no comment” on questions regarding the Marriott Hotel project. Brassington has also warned the Chinese construction company not to speak to the media. Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) has been handed the US$52 million contract to build the hotel, and demanded from the government that they import their own workforce.
As such, a large group of Chinese workers are contracted at the site. Even with burning questions surrounding the issue, the government has released no details on who the Chinese workers are. There is no indication that the workers have work permits. And if they have work permits, nothing is known about what skills they have in order to be granted a work permit.
Gail Teixeira, Presidential Advisor on Governance and a top executive in the ruling PPP, had said that the employment of every Chinese working on the project would have had to be justified. But except for crying out about the lack of local labour, she offered no details on the justification for bringing in an all-Chinese workforce.
Now, there is speculation that the workers could in fact be Chinese convicts dumped here by China to ease its overrun prisons.
This allegation is nothing new where Chinese workers are concerned. It is known that when it comes to overseas projects, Chinese companies have the common practice of hiring few, if any, local workers and import most of their workers, some of whom could be Chinese convicts released on parole to do overseas work. The workers are usually housed close to the worksite, so that if they were to escape, they could be easily located in a foreign land. In the case of the Guyana Marriott Hotel project, the Chinese eat, sleep and work at the Kingston, Georgetown site.
There has always been speculation of the various ways China uses to ease its prison population, from sending them off to developing countries to work, and executing some.
Amnesty International has reported that in 2007, China secretly executed over 20 prisoners every day. There are reports that hundreds, if not thousands of Chinese convicts were sent to work on projects in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
From the Guyana angle, the government is so far using taxpayers’ money to fund the construction of the Marriott Hotel, with some $2 billion already handed over to the Chinese firm. The government has so far failed to sign on investors for the project.
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