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08.02.2006 General News

Controversy Over Chinese workers

By Chronicle
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....Only 60 South East Asian workers hired, 60 more expected CHINESE CONTRACTORS ANGRY over allegations of use of prison Labour ... promise to meet Oct 2007 deadline THE CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of Shanghai Group of Companies, Mr. Hu, is fuming with rage at suggestions that his company has hired Chinese prisoners for the construction of the Sekondi Stadium, one of the venues for the African Cup of Nations to be hosted by Ghana in 2008.

During a fact-finding trip to the site on Monday, The Chronicle asked him how many prisoners he had brought to Ghana for the job. Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Hu emphatically denied the widespread rumour, which has already been carried by different media houses to the effect that his company has brought into the country, Chinese prisoners to work on the project.

To buttress his point, Mr. Hu stated, “ If these workers were Chinese prisoners, why did the Ghana government grant them visas to enter this country to work?”

He explained that the Chinese workers were staff employees of his company in China, who have had considerable experience in stadium construction.

He told the Chronicle exclusively at the project site that the real construction of the project started about two weeks ago, with only 60 (skilled and unskilled) workers, brought from China, the home country of the construction company.

Mr. Hu disclosed further that 60 additional workers from China would be arriving in the country by next week to increase the total labour force to 120, so as to speed up the pace of the construction.

He disclosed that though his company has promised to bring in 400 skilled labourers from China, those workers would be brought in as and when their services were needed, adding that because the project is currently at the foundation stage the services of all of them are not needed as yet.

Mr. Hu explained that his company has the capacity to meet the October 2007 deadline.

The Chronicle team sighted the Chinese staff doing simple construction work like mixing concrete, masonry and carpentry work.

Explaining to the Chronicle why Chinese staff were engaged for unskilled labour, Mr. Hu disclosed that his outfit has hired a Ghanaian company to take charge of the local employment, as his company was not familiar with the Ghanaian labour market.

The Chronicle held a separate interview with the director of the Ghanaian company that is supposed to be in charge of the local employment, R.M. Brownn Construction Company, Mr. Christopher Adams, at the site of the construction.

He disclosed that his company has put in place the necessary mechanism to begin employing the local labour force to supplement the foreign labour, for speedy implementation of the project.

According to Mr. Adams, his company would try to be fair, and not discriminate against anybody who qualifies to work on the project.

Readers would recall that The Chronicle reported about three weeks ago that anxious youth from the Shama Ahanta Metropolitan Assembly had rushed to construction site in search of jobs.

However, their hopes were dashed when the Shanghai Group of Companies refused to employ them, having brought their labour force, including both unskilled and skilled from their country.

Our visit to the site suggested that the youth from the Metropolis, who were hoping to get employed, have stopped visiting the construction site, presumably, out of frustration.

Mr. Hu however indicated that the person to contact is the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr. Kwesi Nkrumah.

During the visit, the Chronicle team met a representative of a company, which offers heavy equipment to the Shanghai Group of Companies for the construction of the foundation of the project.

The construction work was however going on for an on-site hospital and offices, but the main stadium site was not packed with workers as would be expected.