Friday 7th March, 2008

 

1,500 more Chinese for Alutrint complex

 
 
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By Yvonne Webb

Approximately 1,500 more Chinese workers are being brought to Trinidad to start work on the Alutrint Aluminium complex at La Brea.

Confirmation came yesterday from acting CEO of Alutrint Ltd Philip Julien, who said the piling phase of the project was set for next month and production during the second half of 2010.

“Everybody knows there is a scarce labour market in Trinidad and Tobago right now. The economy is hot,” Julien told members of the media yesterday, after a stakeholders’ forum in Paria Suite, La Romaine.

“For us to get the best quality individuals in the quantities required, to build a facility this size in the short period specified, it’s more straight-forward for us to temporarily bring in some workers for the critical part and offer the locals the opportunity for the non-critical factors of the project schedules,” he explained.

Julien assured that there would be a transfer of technology, despite the language barrier between the Chinese and the locals.

He said interpreters, suitably technically and engineering-minded, would be brought to the site to ensure that the technology transfer occurred.

Stakeholders respond

Stakeholders, however, expressed concerns about the spread of prostitution and other communicable diseases in the La Brea communit,y with the coming of the Chinese workers.

One Mr Phillip recalled the recent dengue scare among Chinese workers employed on government projects in Port-of-Spain, and enquired about Alutrint’s response in the event of a similar health scare.

Alutrint administrative and finance manager Adrian Bernard sought to allay their fears.

“There is nothing to worry about,” Bernard noted. He said the requirement for getting work permits was very vigorous and workers would be screened.

In terms of 1,500 men seeking companionship while in this country, Bernard, while trying to keep a straight face, said they would educate the foreigners on the laws and culture of the country.

Commenting about the impact the plant will have on rain water residents collect for drinking in the absence of pipeborne supply and emergency plans in case of a disaster, Bernard also lamented the lack of infrastructure and utilities in La Brea. “Alutrint is going to construct a state-of-the-art US$500 million plant in an area in T&T that is seriously lacking in infrastructure.

“Not only in industrial water, but in pipeborne water for residents, a proper and reliable supply of telecommunications, natural gas and electricity. “All those are real issues that we are faced with.”

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