SUNBIZ

20 Sinohydro-HDEC Staff Stuck In China Because Of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Around 20 employees of a large project led by PowerChina’s Sinohydro-HDEC Joint Venture are stranded in China, because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The Chinese company in charge of the
02 Mar 2020 11:42
20 Sinohydro-HDEC Staff Stuck In China Because Of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
From left: Water Authority of Fiji chairperson Bhavesh Kumar, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Ji Xiayong of Sinohydro-HDEC JV after signing the Rewa River Water Supply Scheme at the Grand Pacic Hotel on April 11, 2019.

Around 20 employees of a large project led by PowerChina’s Sinohydro-HDEC Joint Venture are stranded in China, because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

The Chinese company in charge of the Rewa River Water Supply Scheme project now urgently needs 20 more staff but are seeking Government assistance.

The Chinese company is based out in Naqali, Nausori and it employs more than 400 staff.

Of the 20 staff stuck in China, 11 went back to celebrate the Chinese New Year holiday, while nine new staff had their work permit applications approved, but combined the group cannot enter Fiji.

This is because of the travel restrictions imposed by the Fijian Government as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

About the project

The project is under the Fiji Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Investment Programme.

The scheme will provide the people of the greater Suva area with better access to safe, reliable water.

Sinohydro-HDEC Joint Venture Fiji branch Human Resources manager Yale Gogh said: “The project was launched last year in April, its a very big project.

“Now because of the Coronavirus it has impacted our project.

“For example, our project requires specialised skilled sets, because some of our machines are brought in from China. So we have to hire from China.

“At the moment our project and construction managers, some very important leaders and some very skilled workers can’t come to Fiji.

“Operationally until now business has been okay, because we still have a lot of Chinese staff here who can operate and do specialised work. These staff didn’t go to China to celebrate the Spring festival.

“For our staff, no matter if they are in Fiji or stuck in China, the company will keep paying them.

“Nine of the 20 stuck in China just had their work permits approved by the Department of Immigration for one year, but now it’s a waste, because they cannot enter the country.

“With the virus spreading we don’t know whether it will be one or two months of waiting.”

Company plans

He said they need assistance from the Fijian Government to solve the problem.

“In our business plans, we have some materials to be shipped from China to Fiji but because of the virus, we will have to wait for one or two months.

“Some special heavy machine operators are needed for the piling and welding machines.

“We just spent a lot of money to import one heavy machinery from China, for the pilling job, however, the operator is now stuck in China.

“Yes, it’s costing our business and its a bit hard to find such special expertise in Fiji. It doesn’t help when you have hired  experts from China and they have the work permit but cannot enter Fiji.”

The company needs at least 20 more staff urgently, says Mr Gogh.

“We have prepared their work application documents but we don’t want to apply for the work permits at the Department of Immigration yet.

“This is because we are worried if we are to submit it to them during this coronavirus outbreak period, they might give the approval, and we will face the same problem where they cannot enter the country. Time wasted again.”

Company composition

He said for the company its ratio should be  20 per cent of Chinese staff that is around 130, with about 300-400 local staff.

“But now we have about 30 to 40 Chinese staff here working, while we wait for the rest to come into Fiji.”

Challenges

He highlighted they are facing challenges when requesting for a work permit or business visa extensions.

“Six of our staff who had already been given business visas when they applied for an extension it was not given.

“I have checked with the Department of Immigration about three times, the confirmation, it was not approved, so they cannot stay here.

“They need to return to China via Hong Kong.

“The Department of Immigration said they have gone through the process and that’s the policy even with the virus outbreak, so they have to leave Fiji.

“One of them left on Thursday, we had applied to extend his stay but it was not approved.

“Five more staff are in the same situation they applied for an extension but were told to leave Fiji by March 23.

“Because the business visa is going to expire by March 23. We just hope that the Fijian Government can consider special requirements for this sought of cases.”

He said, for example, offer assistance to businesses such as their company by allowing specialised skilled workers to come in or those that are already here to have their work permit extended.

“For example, if they can give us one or two months consecutive extension until the virus problem is solved would be of major help,” he said.

The company also successfully completed the construction of the US$150 million (FJ$321million) Nadarivatu Dam in 2012.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Subscribe-to-Newspaper