China’s global record of substandard infrastructure calls into question ongoing projects in Guyana
Several countries across the world can testify that China-owned constructing firms are not the best companies to hire if you want a building that can stand the test of time.
As we continue to expose China’s modus operandi around the world, the focus this week is on the common fate sealed by many infrastructural projects undertaken by Chinese-owned companies. Now, the list may be too long for us to note all the infrastructural projects that China has messed up so we cherry picked a few.
Many African countries have been victims of substandard works undertaken by Chinese firms for millions of US dollars. Chinese companies in Africa are rated as having some of the worst working conditions in the world, and the infrastructure building has been called into question many times over.
In fact, African media houses reported that Chinese officials and companies have been working to overcome a reputation for poor quality and lax safety standards. However, many countries do not have much of a choice. Once China gives a loan for a specific project, it mandates the receiving country to give the job to a Chinese firm.
The Luanda’s General Hospital in Angola is a classic case. The hospital which was built by the Chinese in 2006 was evacuated just four years later amid fears of structural instability and collapse. Over 150 patients were forced out of the building.
The patients were evacuated after the discovery of deep cracks in the walls of the pediatrics and gynecology wards. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Chinese-built_hospital_risks_collapse_in_Angola_state_radio_999.html.
The US$8M hospital was built by the China Overseas Engineering Group Company (COVEC), through credit lines provided by Beijing. That company is a subsidiary of one of the largest construction companies in the world, China Railway. China Railway is operating in Guyana and was even gifted lands under the PPP/C administration.
Since the 27-year civil war ended in 2002, Angola has embarked on a major reconstruction drive with hefty aid from China, which has provided credit lines in exchange for Angolan oil. Angola has to repay the loan despite the fact that a hefty sum had to be spent to repair the building.
Kenya has been another victim of China. Recently, a US$10M Chinese-built bridge in western Kenya, personally commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta, collapsed. At least 27 workers were injured when the bridge broke on June 26, last.
The collapse occurred less than two weeks after President Kenyatta visited the site as part of a campaign tour before general elections in August. https://qz.com/1015554/a-chinese-built-bridge-collapsed-in-kenya-two-weeks-after-it-was-inspected-by-the-president. Again, it was China Overseas Engineering Group that was contracted by the Kenyan government to build the 100-meter bridge.
Portions of a Chinese built road in Zambia were washed away by rains in 2009. Read more at https://www.lusakatimes.com/2009/03/20/rains-damage-lusaka-chirundu-road/.
Nigeria and Zimbabwe have had similar stories to tell about having to pay good money for bad works undertaken by Chinese companies. But closer to home, Trinidad has had to foot the bill of a project where it did not get its money’s worth.
In 2015, the TT$500 million National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain had to be completely shut down, six years after it was built.
Trinidad had labeled the building a hazard and said that it did not meet health and safety standards. The safety concerns of NAPA were outlined in an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Authority) report which was submitted to Cabinet and then to the Works Ministry.
NAPA was constructed by the Chinese company, the same company that constructed Marriott Guyana.
SCG International (Caribbean) Managing Director Michael Zhang had said that the company had often been called upon to fix small problems at the Trinidad facility, and “we are still willing to support the building management to fix the issues.”A similar story of consolation was given to Guyana with regards to the Marriott Hotel.
The 197-room hotel was completed at more than US$50M with real cost for lands and other concessions estimated at more than US$80M. But the government is now faced with finding US$4M to do necessary repairs needed.
The workers of the company have been squatting in a section of the Hotel for months now. They refuse to move, claiming that they are owed payment to the tune of US$4M.
But according to AHI Chairman, Hewley Nelson, there are serious defects which management continues to face on a monthly basis. Nelson said that the cost to deal with these problems is also in the neighbourhood of US$4M.
Then there is the Convention Centre which the Chinese said they gifted to Guyana. The Building is now under repairs because it begun to sink.
China Railway was recently given a US$46M contact for the upgrade to the East Coast Demerara Road. China Railway is the same company that worked on the bridge that collapsed in Kenya.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is currently working on the modernization of the US$150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). CHEC has had its fair share of controversy up to very recently even in its home country with regards to substandard work and material. (Read more http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2095805/construction-and-certification-industries-under-threat-after.)
Already, it has been reported that CHEC is using low grade blocks for the expansion works being done on CJIA. Read more: https://www.google.com/search?q=CHEC+substandard+blocks+at+CJIA+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b.
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