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Chinese workers at airport expansion project attacked

ii. One of the alleged culprits [shirtless] was identified by eyewitnesses (Public Works photo)

Three staffers of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) – the corporation executing the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project – were confronted by cutlass-wielding individuals who robbed one of them of a cell phone, the Public Works Ministry said in a statement.

The Timehri North Community Development Council (TNCDC) has condemned the attack while at the same time warning that such incidents are inevitable because the residents around the airport are being removed to facilitate the project. The government labels them squatters.l

The incident occurred on October 12 at around 1:45 pm. The ministry said Timehri police are investigating the matter and two persons so far have been arrested.

“Investigations revealed that the CHEC staff were back filling sand to the north of the existing runway when three persons approached the sand truck operator menacingly with a cutlass ordering him to stop the operation which he readily did,” said the Ministry.

The trio, alleged to be cash crop farmers in the area, left and went across to the CHEC technicians some distance off and violently stole a cell phone valued US$500 from the pocket of one of the men. Meanwhile, another employee was gripped by his neck by one of the perpetrators.

The Ministry of Public Works strongly denounced that incident, saying it sent a wrong message to foreign nationals working for Guyana’s development.

The TNCDC said it condemn edthe actions allegedly committed on the Chinese nationals supposedly executing instructions by the Government of Guyana to destroy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth in crops in the farming area of Timehri North.

At the same time, the community organisation accused government, through the Ministry of Public Works, of continuing to act as though there is a consensus, based on discussions and dialogues, and that the residents who have inhabited these lands for generations, are inanimate beings.

“It is clear that the Government is setting up those innocent immigrants to suffer hostility and possible harm by sending them in an environment that is caustic and where any act, as is being undertaken by the Chinese is seen as hostile,” added TNCDC.

The TNCDC said that In any civilized human environment where there is a threat to livelihood and civility one would tend to act in a manner to protect that which he/she has sacrificed for.  

The organisation warned that the actions of the government would inevitably lead to tensions and clashes between the residents and farmers on the one hand, and the Chinese workers on the other hand.

“The government has to take full responsibility for any clashes that erupt because it is pushing both sides into confrontation. If knowing this and yet it continues, the logical conclusion has to be that the government is deliberately fomenting strife and conflict…something that is not only imbecilic but dangerous and irresponsible,” added the TNCDC.

Government has been meeting with groups of residents in the area as part of plans to have them relocated.