10.7b yuan worth of projects at risk in Libya, 2 Chinese companies say
Toh Han Shih
State-owned China Gezhouba Group Corporation and Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) say projects worth 10.7 billion yuan (HK$12.7 billion) in Libya are at risk from the civil war afflicting the North African state.
MCC, listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai, is constructing 5,000 units at a residential property project and a cement plant in Libya. The outstanding value of these two projects, based on uncompleted work, is 5.13 billion yuan, or 2 per cent of MCC's total outstanding contract value as of the end of last year, said the company in an announcement.
All projects have been suspended 'as the situation in Libya remains in turmoil', MCC said, adding that all the company's employees had been evacuated from the country. 'Some expenses will be incurred due to the evacuation. Given the uncertain situation in Libya, the subsequent development of the above projects remains unclear.'
Gezhouba, an infrastructure construction conglomerate that specialises in dams, is building 7,300 residential units worth 5.54 billion yuan. The Shanghai-listed company said 17 per cent of that project had been completed.
'All our 1,060 Chinese workers in Libya were evacuated by February 28 and the project is suspended,' Gechouba said, warning that the evacuation would incur costs, and that it was impossible to say when the project would resume.
Gezhouba said it had established a team to protect its assets in Libya.
China Communications Construction (CCC), a Hong Kong-listed port construction firm, has evacuated all its 4,893 Libyan staff. This includes 2,383 Chinese workers building 5,000 units at a residential property project.
On the afternoon of February 20, the project site was surrounded by armed gangs, said CCC's website. 'The project headquarters called the police. The police arrived, but seeing many people armed with guns, they left. As more people armed with guns arrived, the atmosphere grew increasingly tense.'
To protect themselves, CCC's workers organised into paramilitary units armed with batons, said CCC. 'On the night of February 20, the sound of gunfire was heard. Armed gangs started to attack the site. At that time, the police was too busy to protect the workers. CCC workers counter-attacked by throwing stones at the armed gangs. When the attackers saw the Chinese workers bravely and resolutely standing their ground, the armed gangs dispersed.'
At the project site, 40 Chinese female workers formed a 'propaganda group to raise morale,' it said. On February 28, all Chinese workers from the project were evacuated from Libya, CCC's website said.