GRENADA: Tension between locals and Chinese at a quarry site

(THE NEWS TODAY) – The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has been called in as tension is rising high between a local group running the Mt. Hartman quarry and Chinese investors involved in a nearby US$2. 9 billion development project in the south of the island.

THE NEW TODAY arrived on the scene just after 11.00 a.m. on invitation of the local workers who are operating under the banner of the CCCCI Group.

The Chinese allegedly trespassed on the quarry site and were caught removing boulders for their own construction project about 1000 yards away.

A party of four police officers from the South St. George police station arrived on the quarry site close to mid-day in answer to a call from the local operators who sought the assistance of the lawmen against the intruding Chinese.

According to the project manager at the Quarry, Jason Joseph, he was alerted around 10. 00 a.m. by workers that a truck belonging to the Chinese had come onto the compound and was removing boulders that they had stockpiled for crushing at the plant.

THE NEW TODAY was told that the Chinese took away about 8 tonnes of boulders valued at around $700.00 before they were confronted by the locals.

A tractor belonging to CCCCI was seen using boulders and other debris to put across a new access road that the Chinese had built in recent weeks to gain access to the Mt. Hartman Quarry.

Joseph said that this is not the first encounter that the locals had with the Chinese who have struck a deal with the Keith Mitchell-led government to develop a luxury resort in the area.

He spoke of the locals taking steps to block a new road that the Chinese cut with heavy-duty equipment in an effort to try and link the two sites to gain access to the boulders.

In addition, he said that unknown to the local operators of the quarry, the Chinese were apparently working at night to cut a second road to gain access at another access point to the quarry. Joseph stated that the CCCCI Group has a lease for the premises and is lawfully in possession of the island’s lone stone quarry that belongs to government.

He said the quarry workers are upset over this development as they feel that the Chinese are looking to take over the quarry and put them out of employment.

He disclosed that the company has 300 employees at the moment and is currently trying to produce sufficient crushed stone and aggregate for several road projects started by the Mitchell-led government.

One local commentator who deplored the behaviour of the Chinese construction workers said that they are operating very differently from the Republic of China on Taiwan who never sent in any of their people to engage in construction projects in Grenada.

He lamented the fact that Taiwan offered financial assistance and allowed Grenadians to do the work on several of their funded projects.

The Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration severed ties with Taiwan in 2005 – months after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan – to take up a more lucrative package from Mainland China.