Yida promises more local jobs

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On the heels of a new steel factory in the Yida Special Economic Zone, the company is now mulling how to incorporate more locals in the operations.
The steel factory, which is expected to fabricate the shells of other factories, is said to be capable of producing windows, galvanise roofing material, metal sheaths, metal fittings and several other products.
The CEO of Yida, Johann Hesse, said that while a Chinese team is presently on the ground to install the equipment, there will be another team engaged “to train locals to actually use the machines.”
He said a foreseeable challenge will be communication between locals and Chinese, however, he is hoping that the company could employ students who have studied in China to overcome the hurdle.
The steel factory joins a cement factory, which will produce the material for the concrete roads in the zone, as well as bricks and blocks. The company also expects to construct a ceramic tile factory before the end of the year.
In giving an update on the progress of the project, Hesse said the company will be focused on building the infrastructure for the development “over the next few months.”
“We are building our roads and we have a desal-plant which [has] been ordered…. They are on their way and a sewage treatment plant has to be put in as well,” he added.
Hesse was speaking on the side-lines of the opening of the factory on Monday.
The Yida project was announced in 2014, after the Gaston Browne administration signed a contract with main shareholder Yida Zhang shortly after entering office. However, the company has been criticised by some for not moving fast enough to make good on its planned $2.2 billion investment.
The zone was set to include the largest free trade zone in the country, off-shore financial centre, a 5-star luxury resort, villa communities, a casino and gaming complex, a multi-purpose conference centre, a 27-hole golf course, marina and landing facilities, commercial, retail, sports and other auxiliary facilities.
The company ran into trouble, when it reportedly cleared mangroves in a protected area, which led to work being halted. Lux Locations also filed a lawsuit against Yida in April 2015, claiming that Yida owes it US $5.4 million, which was a nine percent commission on a US $60 million land deal Lux Locations closed for the Chinese investor in August 2014.
Despite the setbacks, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he is “impressed” with the work Yida has undertaken so far, including its newest facility.
He said the factory is “easily the best facility anywhere in the Easter Caribbean.”
Browne said he believes that the manufacturing capabilities of the Yida group would be an opportunity for the country to export more products.
“The truth is that we have been struggling with the manufacturing sector, we have been struggling to find products to export. So, the potential for export is real and I just hope that they will look beyond providing material for their own purpose here,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the PM said that in his conversations with the investors, “hundreds of jobs will be created” as the project grows.
“I understand in the steel fabrication facility itself, they require about 40 individuals in the first instance,” he added.
 

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