Deonarine said the regional corporation has been waiting for copies of the approval plans for the camp which a local company claimed it received from the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD), on behalf of Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation. She did not name the local company. Public health officials from the County Medical Office of Health in Caroni accompanied Deonarine on a tour of the camp where they found the Chinese labourers, who work for Beijing Liujian, lived in unsanitary conditions. On Tuesday, at least 70 labourers were arrested after they protested for two months pay which they said the company owed them. Beijing Liujian has since applied to the Immigration Division to have the work permits of 32 labourers revoked for breach of contract.
Deonarine said a year ago she noticed the land at Ramsaran Trace, Bejucal Road, Cunupia, where the camp is located off Chatee Trace, was being filled and at first thought it was for agricultural use. When structures were built on the land she made a report at a meeting of the corporation which has jurisdiction over this area.
Deonarine said when engineers and building inspectors from the corporation went with her to the land in September 2008 they realised there wasn’t any planning proposal for the site. A “showcause” notice was served to Beijing Liujian on October 7, 2008 asking the company to provide information as to why the structures should not be demolished. The corporation sent a notice of demolition to Beijing Liujian on December 9, 2008, in accordance with Section 36 of the Public Ordinances Act, advising the company that it was “erecting an unauthorised warehouse-type structure and residential type building without the approval of the secretary of the local authority.”
The corporation said it would demolish or remove the unauthorised buildings seven days after the notice and costs would have to be covered by Beijing Liujian as the occupier of the land. After the company failed to reply to the showcause a notice of demolition was published in the newspapers in January this year. Deonarine said the corporation received a response in May from a “local business” on behalf of Beijing Liujian that the Chinese company had submitted documents on the structures to TCPD and asked for time for the approvals to be given.
“The corporation’s hands are tied. So unless those plans come back to us and we do not see it conforms to (approved) standards only then can action be taken by the corporation,” said Deonarine.
The local firm informed the corporation it had been told by an official from the advisory committee from TCPD of the length of time the process for approvals will take.
“What was strange in reviewing the files is that we realised the documents were for a warehouse office,” said Deonarine. While observing the living conditions of the Chinese workers yesterday, Deonarine said she felt the CMOH office should shut down the site and relocate them.
She said the placement of six persons to each room of the camp’s quarters and the unsanitary conditions of the toilets, kitchen and compound were enough reasons to “close down the place”.
The workers do not have any private toilets and washroom facilities. The toilets are holes with a PVC piping around the rim which line a concrete block. The area toilet and bathing areas are open.
Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation chief executive officer Winifred David confirmed the corporation was awaiting drawing plans from TCPD before deciding on if to take action against Beijing Liujian. Newsday contacted director of corporate communications at the Ministry of Housing, Planning and the Environment Annabelle Brasnell who said the TCPD was conducting an investigation based on a directive from line minister Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde.
Because of the dispute between the Chinese labourers, work remained stalled at sites of the Aranguez Government Secondary and Five Rivers Government secondary schools which Beijing Liujian has the contracts to build.