The Chinese contractor working on the multi-billion- dollar expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) was caught using its equipment illegally on a private job.
According to officials, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) used its trucks and other vehicles and possibly even sand from the airport project on the MovieTowne construction at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.
CHEC’s trucks, more than 25 of them, were granted duty free concessions by the previous government for the US$150M airport work. CHEC also reportedly received tax waivers on at least six pick-ups and four SUVs.
Somewhere along the way, the company’s sister company, China Harbour Engineering (T&T) Ltd (CHEC) also managed to win the contract to construct the MovieTowne project.
The Turkeyen project, to include eight cinemas and food courts among other things, was contracted to CHEC in December 2014 for US$30M.
However, it appeared that CHEC decided to use the equipment that it has stationed at the airport, including the trucks, to work along with the MovieTowne project.
Under the terms of conditions for the granting of concessions, equipment and vehicles have to be utilized specifically for the purposes it was granted—- in this case the airport project.
Late last year, CHEC’s trucks were spotted on the East Bank Demerara road with sand. It was after hours. The trucks were not supposed to be working at nights.
The supervising consultant of the airport project, a Canadian company called MMM Group, was alerted but CHEC had an explanation why the trucks were on the road at that hour. The company said the trucks were taking sand from a sandpit belonging to a businessman who operates in the Yarrowkabra area, Soesdyke/Linden Highway, to the MovieTowne site.
CHEC reportedly managed to even acquire receipts of payments from the businessman to prove its story. What was not explained was how the trucks that could only work on the airport project were allowed to take sand to another location.
The matter was reportedly raised with airport authorities and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Yesterday, CJIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ramesh Ghir, referred the reporter to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure for comments.
Efforts to contact Geoffrey Vaughn, head of the Work Services Group of the
ministry, proved futile.
For the airport project, CHEC was allowed use of three sandpits, two loam pits and two pagasse pits.
CHEC insiders last week complained that managers were also using staffers stationed at the CJIA expansion at MovieTowne. These included drivers.
As a matter of fact, a few pieces of equipment including a tower crane that came for the CJIA project has been put into use at MovieTowne.
It is not the first time that CHEC has been in trouble.
Last year, truckers complained that the company bypassed them and hired trucks of BaiShanLin, a logging company, to help fetch sand in the airport project.
BaiShanLin was blocked shortly after from participating in the contract as those trucks were illegal there…It had been granted concessions specifically for forestry purposes.
Shortly after that, the trucks of Rong-An Inc. were also used in the airport contract, illegally too.
In March 2013, the PPP/C Government turned the sod for the US$150M airport expansion.
In 2011, Guyana learnt about CHEC after a Jamaica newspaper broke the news that the Guyana Government had signed a deal with that Chinese company. CHEC has an office in Jamaica.
Some US$138M of the US$150M was coming from a Chinese loan with the remainder from the Government of Guyana.
Government later said that it was about to announce the signing when the news was prematurely leaked.
The project was to extend the runway by another 1,000 meters and build a new terminal building that would boast bridges, escalators and bigger arrival and departure halls.
Just about a quarter of the work has been done by CHEC yet it has received more than 70 percent of the monies.
The new administration, under David Granger, has announced that it is moving forward with the expansion but has scaled down the works because of monies.
There will no longer be a new terminal building, but an upgraded one.
In recent years, consecutive Governments have come under flak for managing foreign investors and contractors to ensure that they comply with agreements and don’t abuse concessions.
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