The government has moved to provide reassurance that the Mandela Highway Improvement Project is still on track for a December completion date, following a meeting with representatives of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
Concerns have been raised about the progress of the project after workers became restive and walked off the job citing inadequate pay and working conditions.
The meeting was convened by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and the Office of the Prime Minister Audrey Sewell last evening (October 3). CHEC was represented by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Zhimin Hu and NWA by CEO EG Hunter. A team from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security led by Collette Roberts Risden was also in attendance.
During the meeting, the Government officials noted that no formal complaint has been made to the Ministry of Labour of a dispute between the workers and CHEC. However, it was made clear that resolution of the matter is necessary in the national interest.
In that regard, the Government officials requested information on rates paid to workers and whether CHEC is complying with industry standards.
CHEC assured the meeting that rates are paid based on industry standards. The CHEC officials also noted that work on the Mandela Improvement Project continues even though approximately 20 drivers are not operating in a normal fashion.
The management of CHEC assured the meeting that it will continue its work to ensure that the December deadline for the completion of the Mandela Highway project is met.
The Government has given an undertaking to continue monitoring the situation.