Community reacts to China road contractors working on Sunday

The road upgrade project is picking up progress after months of delays due to the Covid pandemic and the recent relentless wet weather but the push to catch up has caused concern with local communities with the project teams working on Sundays. 

People of the village of Avatele on Sunday morning raised concerns that the workers were on the roads using heavy machinery like it was a normal working day. 

The Avatele Village Council (VC) Chairperson Hetututama Hetutu approached the team and told them to stop work because it is a Sunday and in Niue working is not permitted. The team stopped work and returned to their base at Fonuakula.

BCN News understands that there were questions asking how different is this situation from the boat workers working on Sundays. 

BCN News reached out to the President of the Ekalesia Niue Rev. Navy Salatielu and he said that while there is no official agreement between the Ekalesia and the Niue government, there is an understanding with regards to the cargo boat being offloaded on Sundays. 

As a matter of necessity for the goods that need to be offloaded especially if there are goods needed for the hospital or if there is no stock on island. The church also recognises the manner in which the boat workers respect Sunday, by stopping their work when the church service begins and will resume when the service ends. 

Meanwhile, the Director of Utilities Clinton Chapman earlier this week confirmed to BCN News that under the agreement with the Road Project, working on Sundays is not permitted. 

Chapman said  “our consultations with all VCs unanimously indicate that there is to be no Sunday work.”

He said that “because of recent wet weather, the contractor has been trying to catch up on downtime but Chapman confirmed that going forward, they will adhere to agreement.”  

The China Railway Group is now working on the roads from Talamaitonga to Hakupu because these roads are the most damaged, says Chapman. 

They also have teams working on drainage systems which resulted in the closure of the Tamakautonga to Alofi coastal road being closed for about a week and half but that road is now open.

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