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China Harbour hits back

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Mr Qiwu Yang, project manager, Palisadoes Shoreline Protection and Rehabilitation Works.

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The international firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the main contractor in the US$65-million Palisadoes Shoreline project, has broken its silence on several allegations made against the company by some local subcontractors involved in the project.

The company characterised allegations concerning the non-payment of funds to subcontractors contained in a Gleaner report as baseless, damaging and unsubstantiated references that portrayed the CHEC in a very bad light.

"Several references are made about subcontractors and various grouses. China Harbour wishes to state for the record that it has only one subcontractor on the Palisadoes Shoreline Project - that contractor is Y.P. Seaton and Associates."

The company stressed that no other contractors or suppliers are contracted directly to China Harbour. "Unless the 'subcontractors' quoted in the article is Y.P. Seaton and Associates then none of their references can be taken in respect of China Harbour."

However, several truckers and suppliers of road work material who described themselves as sub-contractors, told The Gleaner that they begun to work for China Harbour under a verbal arrangement when payments from YP Seaton were not forthcoming. They said they had gone to China Harbour representatives to work out arrangements whereby they would bypass Y.P. Seaton and deal directly with the company. The claimed, however, that they have been forced to withdraw their services as the amount being paid by China Harbour cannot sustain them.

Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry said as far as he knows, China Harbour has hammered out a contract with Y.P. Seaton, the main subcontractor Y.P. Seaton and no one else.

claims denied

China Harbour has also denied claims of a payment discrepancy of US$5m involving work done and payments to Seaton by China Harbour. "This is a false and damaging allegation that is without merit or foundation."

China Harbour stressed that all payments to Y.P. Seaton and Associates have been made and in full. "China Harbour is in receipt of one claim from Y.P. Seaton and Associates in the sum of US$278,000 for variances, which has been sent to our client, the National Works Agency, for approval in keeping with our contractual agreements and we are awaiting their reply."

While not stating the amount, Y.P. Seaton hit the airwaves corroborating allegations that his company was owed money by China Harbour which prevented payments to the subcontractors.

He was referring to a report that extortionists were plaguing the project.

But China Harbour has vehemently denied the suggestions of a US$5 million discrepancy. "We are unaware of any outstanding payments of US$5m in respect of the Palisadoes Shoreline Project," China Harbour said.

"All the projects that are being undertaken by China Harbour in Jamaica are progressing smoothly, on schedule and within budget," the company stressed.

It said CHEC prides itself in its commitment to being a full-service provider to its clients and uses its international engineering experience, global business network, management team and robust financial backing to offer clients a wide range of service options.

The company says it has 31 overseas branches with business activities covering more than 70 countries, employs over 8,000 international staff and currently undertakes US$9.5 billion worth of projects.