BY CHRIS ALEX
THE official handover ceremony for the National Stadium to the Solomon Islands Government by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Friday, August 18, angered workers from the 2023 Pacific Games National Stadium Project.
RAW SPORTS spoke to several of the local and Chinese workers, who have been employed by the Chinese state company China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), outside the new million-dollar, 10,000-capacity national stadium, with many unhappy at why the government had limited the event to only special invited guests.
The group of workers who were not allowed to enter the stadium but were left outside the stadium grounds expressed their frustration over their exclusion from the official ceremony.
Local construction worker Kency Leongo, 30, from Western Province, argued that the ceremony was marred by its failure to recognize and include those who had labored tirelessly to bring the project to completion.
“We are neglected from participating in the official handover ceremony of the 2023 Pacific Games (PG2023) national stadium project. While the event was marked with historical triumph and accomplishment, it’s not fair for locals and Chinese workers who had dedicated their efforts to the project but were notably absent from the official program.
He noted that construction workers deserved some official recognition from the national government.
“Our contributions, reflected in the sweat and soul that went into constructing every brick and beam, symbolized the completion of our hard work.
“We gave our all, and we were very committed to fulfilling the desires of the people and government,” Kency explained. “But somehow we are not part of the ceremony that we were expecting to be a part of.”
He further explained that the disparity between the workers’ efforts and their exclusion from the ceremony raises questions about the sense of appreciation for the country’s labor force that underpins monumental projects such as the Pacific Games 2023 National Stadium.
“Others in the country may make jokes about us, but the issue I want to put into perspective is the delicate balance between celebrating a milestone in infrastructure and recognizing the hands that build these concrete structures,” Kency said.
In contrast, Kency also expressed his sincere gratitude and satisfaction for the completion of the 2023 Pacific Games national stadium project.
“My message to all my colleagues who worked tirelessly and sacrificed their time, commitment, and spirit to this milestone sports infrastructure is that I want to say thank you to everyone for their sleepless nights and for overcoming the challenges faced throughout the project from the start to the end.
“I take my hat off to all of you, despite the fact that they (the government) neglected us from being part of this special and historical handing over ceremony of the 2023 Pacific Games National Stadium Project,” he said.
Despite the heavy criticism articulated by the workers, the National Hosting Authority (NHA) Chairman and Special Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, remarked in his official welcoming speech at the official handing over of the 2023 Pacific Games stadium project at King George VI in east Honiara that the government is humbled and honored for the workers contributions in the development of the National Stadium and other facilities.
He stressed that these facilities came into being at the hands of the 700 Solomon Islanders who worked with the 300 people from China.
“The national government pays tribute to the seven hundred skilled workers from the Solomon Islands for their outstanding efforts and contribution in the development of the 2023 Pacific Games National Stadium project.
“These workers have faced the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have suffered through the darkest days of the pandemic, during which many of them got COVID-19 infections. They are champions.
“I thanked the 700 Solomon Islanders and their families for their sacrifices. If these local workers looked back, they would see the pride of what they had built in the development of the national stadium project,” Dr. Jimmie Rodgers said.