Yida denies alleged altercation between workers at Crabb’s

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A claim, by a worker, that a fight between nationalities took place at the Yida construction site on Friday has been flatly denied by Yida International Investment and the company insists the incident never went further than a war of words.
According to the company’s agent, Yohann Hesse, there was merely “an exchange between one of our Chinese workers and one of our local workers” which he admitted became “a heated argument”.
As OBSERVER media spoke to him via phone yesterday Hesse declared, “There was no physical altercation.”
However, OBSERVER media spoke to a source who told a vastly different story – one in which a Chinese man allegedly initiated a physical alteration after an Antiguan worker allegedly declined to accept his instruction.
The source said, “The Antiguan guy drives a front-end loader and the loader had a mechanical difficulty. He was waiting for a mechanic to come to his assistance but was told to lift the iron loads from the loader by hand. When he refused, the Chinese man pushed him.”
The alleged incident is reported to have happened around 11 am in the Crabb’s Peninsula area where Yida International Investment is engaged in construction activities including work on a barge plant.
Both Hesse and the source said that the police were not called to the scene of the alleged incident but again, the given reasons for the police not being summoned differ vastly.
Hesse said, “If there was a physical altercation on site we would call the police right away. To my knowledge the police were not called and that is because we did not have a physical altercation.”
Meanwhile, the source said that the Antiguan man involved in the alleged scuffle wanted the police to be called but was warned by another Antiguan – a superior – that if the police got involved he could lose his job.
Hesse also dismissed this claim. The agent said,
“If someone feels threatened they can go to the police and they would not lose their job over something like that.”
Both the source and Hesse agreed that there was some level of tension among workers at the Yida construction site. While Hesse said “heated moments” sometimes occurred and dismissed them as “normal on others job sites” the source said that “racism” was a factor.
“This is the second time this Chinese man has treated the black people like this,” the source said.
However, the Yida agent said that “all of the workers get along very well” and that there had never been a complaint to the company about racism or racist behaviour. He did confess though, that a language barrier creates difficulty between the nationalities on site.
“We had a translator and it was very difficult because they couldn’t be everywhere around the site at once. The company is actually making arrangements to get some more translators … once we have translators then it is easier to communicate but there is no issue of racism,” Hesse said.
Yida International owns 2,138 acres of land which includes portions of Antigua’s north-eastern coast, Guiana Island and other islands. The company promised a US $2 billion mixed leisure-industrial development, parts of which will fall within a special economic zone (SEZ).
The development has been mired in controversy because it falls within the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) – a marine reserve where construction and alteration of the coast are prohibited. The developer has also failed to deliver, so far, on  the level of capital investment which it touted.
Some skeptics of the Yida project are opposed to the number of concessions they have been granted and the sweeping permissions and authority granted to Yida to control development within the SEZ.

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