The Chinese contractor working to expand the East Coast Demerara four-lane highway, yesterday ordered that a number of truckers who were protesting non-payment be sacked.
At least five truckers who were sub-contracted to fetch loam, sand and stone, claimed yesterday that they have not been paid for two months now.
Hours after they spoke to reporters during a short picketing exercise at Good Hope, where
China Railway First Group Limited has a stockpile yard, the truckers were told by contractors that they were not allowed to fetch anymore materials as they had spoken to reporters.
It was explained yesterday that more than 100 persons, including truck drivers and labourers, have not been paid for over two months.
The US$45.5M contract awarded to China Railway involved the extension of the four-lane and upgrades between Better Hope and Belfield.
China Railway, under fire for its lack of adherence to environmental regulations on that project, reportedly hired a number of contractors who in turn sub-contracted work to the truckers and labourers.
The truckers claimed that they were supplied with fuel, at discount rates by China Railway, to fetch loam, sand and stone. Sometimes the work would go all day and night.
“We don’t mind working all day and night. We understand the situation. But for two months now, they are not paying and when we visit the Lusignan office, Mr. Eric tell us he has not received a word,” one of the truckers said.
It was disclosed that the non-payment has caused quite a problem with some drivers just leaving in frustration.
“We have loans with the banks. They are calling us. They think we are lying. We have children. We have to buy tyres, lube…we have to maintain our trucks. We owe for them. All we asking for is for them to pay us on time.”
The truckers said that while the Chinese contractor pay way below what a normal load would cost, they did not mind as the work was constant.
A few hours after complaining to Kaieteur News, the truckers said that their contractors called them and told them that China Railway was not taking any more materials from them.
“This is extremely shocking. We asking for what is ours. And they have fired us. We are asking for Government to look into this matter for us,” one trucker appealed.
The loan for US$45.5M is a concessional one from China.
Guyana has been battling a number of Chinese contractors who have been receiving more and more contracts in Guyana.
However, there has been growing concerns over the quality of work and work practices on the projects.
China Railway’s officials were unavailable for comments yesterday.
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