A group of 10 local sub-contractors employed to the Southern Coastal Highway Project are alleging they’re owed close to $2 billion arising from unsettled claims under the contract with China Harbour Engineering Company, CHEC.

The contractors say their pleas have been ignored for nearly two years by the National Works Agency, NWA, and the Holness administration.

They say despite promises made by the Works Agency to address the matter, their dispute with the Chinese company remains unresolved.

They’re pleading with Works Minister Prime Minister Andrew Holness to intervene.

Mahiri Stewart has more in this report.

Despite the Harbour View to Yallahs leg of the 59-billion dollar highway being opened in February to much fanfare,the local sub-contractors say there’s nothing to celebrate.

They’re accusing the National Works Agency and the Holness administration of leaving them at the mercy of what the say are unfair contractual terms under the arrangement with the Chinese company, CHEC.

The contractors say the contractual terms have left them out of pocket to the tune of nearly $2 billion.

They say they have no recourse as the arbitration arrangements in the sub-contract requires them to wait until the expiration of the major contract in two years before their concerns can be heard.

The seat of arbitration is in Trinidad and Tobago.

Owen Campbell of Build Right Contractors is one of the ten local sub-contractors.

He says those provisions are doing an injustice to the sub-contractors.

Nationwide’s reporting on the issue in June 2022 resulted in a high level meeting being convened by Prime Minister Andrew Holness with then Works Minister Everald Warmington, CEO of the NWA, E.G. Hunter and the ten sub-contractors.

It’s understood at that meeting, Mr. Hunter gave assurances that the concerns of the local sub-contractors would be addressed. He specifically committed to addressing the arbitration clause in the contract.

Nearly two years later, the contractors say that promise has gone unfulfilled.

Repeated efforts by the subcontractors to follow up with the NWA boss have been futile.

Nationwide News has seen copies of letters sent to the NWA seeking an update.

The last letter was dated March 6, 2024. There was no response.

Junior Leslie of Alcar Construction is pleading with Prime Minister Andrew Holness to intervene and have the promises made in 2022 addressed.

He says the contractors and their staff are facing financial ruin.

Mr. Leslie is alleging Chinese contractors are receiving preferential treatment from the Holness administration and the Works Agency.

Keon Hines of N.F. Barnes says he cannot understand why there’s been no resolution of their concerns after two years.

Repeated alls to CEO of the NWA Hunter’s cell phone went unanswered.

When we reached out to the Works Agency, we were advised he was not in office.