After a failed cover-up effort the Addis Standard has confirmed that 7 workers were killed in a blast and resulting fire, while 12 further have been injured. One more case of how Chinese contractors mistreat local workforce during African projects.
Chinese State Engineering Corporation Ltd (CSCEC) is under fire after local journalists of the Addis Standard revealed a story that was not intended to reach the media. On August 8 the construction site of Ethiopia's national stadium was the place of a gas cylinder explosion.
The blast happened inside one of 19 dormitories for local workers, when most of them were going to sleep. Out of 20 inhabitants 7 were killed and 12 suffered from burns of varying degree, one was outside the building.
Despite its scale, the disaster was hidden from the public and its site reportedly demolished before the story was even published. While circumstances of the incident remain unclear, the reported treatment of victims by the Chinese contractor is very questionable.
Reporting by Samuel Bogale suggests that “families of the deceased who came all the way from Shashemene and Wollo were promised 15,000 Birr (about US$640) each as compensations package to “avoid controversy and potential lawsuits”, but they declined to accept. In addition to that, they were also offered 4,000 Birr (about US$170) for burial costs, which was what they were paid so far. They used it to cover the cost of transporting the bodies of their loved ones to their respective places of birth.”
According to the report Chinese contractors mistreat local workers on a regular basis, not providing them with either boots or gloves. Sleeping conditions are substandard and unsafe, the dormitory damaged in August didn't have any fire extinguisher and could have been partly flammable. While CSCEC argues workers receive money to buy some basic equipment like boots, the workers assure they had never received such funds.
There are roughly 800 local workers on the site with 200 Chinese co-workers. As is the case with numerous Chinese-ran projects throughout Africa, there are numerous accusations of the Chinese treating local employees like slave labour exploiting them and not providing the most basic services.