CHEC accused of sidelining local contractors

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Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya-Local contractors at Walvis Bay have expressed their dissatisfaction towards China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for allegedly failing to honour its promise to local sub-contractors.

The contractors claim that during a meeting held in Walvis Bay in 2014 between CHEC, community members and local contractors it was agreed that local contractors would be sub-contracted to do construction of buildings and other small projects.

This, they say, has never happened. Instead the projects have been awarded to other Chinese companies.

CHEC is a Chinese-owned company that was awarded the multi-billion dollar project for the expansion of the Walvis Bay harbour and the port container terminal, as well as the national fuel storage facility.

“In 2014 the consultation meeting was held in the community hall to inform the Walvis Bay community regarding the project. And one of the key points raised during the meeting is that the local contractors will also benefit from this project, especially the building and construction works. But since the project started we have observed that we were sidelined by this company.

“The only project where the local companies were involved is for the interlock works at their offices and at their residential place, called China Town in Walvis Bay, and a small temporary sewerage job at the oil storage tanks.

“Apart from those jobs I have mentioned CHEC had never awarded a contract or tender to a local contractor,” claimed one contractor who asked not to be named for fear that he might be deliberately sidelined in prospective tenders in future for speaking against the company.

“What makes matters worse, is that we, local contractors, are being requested by CHEC to submit our quotations, but they’re just using our quotes and prices to compare them with their Chinese friends, and at the end we end up not getting any tender,” he further claimed.

“When we request feedback from them they just tell you that your prices were too high and that the tender was awarded to another Chinese company. This company (CHEC) is really exploiting us and we want the Ministry of Works and Transport, as well as the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation to investigate this company,” he said.

The aggrieved sub-contractor further noted that some projects were tendered for by locals, but were awarded to Chinese firms, such as the water and sewage pipeline relocation at the fuel storage tanks, the supply of kerbs and installation of interlocks at the Port of Walvis Bay, as well as palisade fencing at the port.

When contacted for comment CHEC’s construction manager, Zou Weiping, who is responsible for the oil storage project, said he was not aware of the issues raised and referred all inquiries to their commercial department.

“I’m not well acquainted with those issues. Kindly speak to the commercial people they might know, as they are the ones dealing with such issues,” Weiping advised.

Efforts to obtain comment from the official responsible at the commercial department, Chen Yuchuan, as well as Zhang Zhongxue, who is responsible for the projects at Walvis Bay Port proved futile, as their mobile phones went unanswered.

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