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China and Brunei get down to business

By Xu Wei in Temburong, Brunei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-11 09:17
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Work is underway at the construction site for the refinery and petrochemical complex on Pulau Muara Besar. Xu Wei / China Daily

It has been common practice for Chinese workers, who are generally more experienced and skilled, to work together with local workers to ensure the quality and efficiency of projects, he said.

"We bring with us Chinese management and technology for projects like this, and we try our best to leave employment opportunities for local people," Wang said.

The strong Chinese presence in Brunei is also evident in another landmark project, a bridge connecting the country's main region with the forested enclave of Temburong. Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei has two main regions that are separated by Sarawak in Malaysia.

In dense rainforests and alongside tropical swamps, employees from China, Bangladesh and Southeast Asian countries battle scorching temperatures and high humidity as they work in three shifts a day, totaling at least 18 hours, to ensure the bridge project is completed before November.

Contract packages

The huge project was divided into six contract packages, with the one covering the sea crossing awarded to the Brunei-South Korea joint venture Daelim Swee. A joint venture between China State Construction Engineering Corp and Ocean Quarry & Construction was responsible for building a viaduct through the rainforests in Temburong.

For Amirah Hajiarun, construction of the Temburong Bridge provided her with a job after she graduated five months ago. It also will bring her family closer.

The 27-year-old from Brunei, who is a quality inspection worker at the China-Brunei joint venture, said that even though she lives with her parents in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital, her father still has siblings who live in Temburong.

"We only meet during major family events, such as marriages or funerals," she said.

Passengers traveling between Bandar Seri Begawan and Temburong now have to rely on a 45-minute water taxi ride, or drive for two hours through Malaysia, which involves border entry and exit procedures.

"It is really inconvenient, because the water taxis only run during the day and the border control offices are only open at certain times," she said.

Next year, the Temburong Bridge will change all this by connecting the forested enclave to mainland Brunei. Once built, it will reduce the journey time by car to 20 minutes.

Hajiarun said: "Working on this project gives me tremendous pride. Everyone in my family is really excited. Since I started working here, they keep asking me when the bridge will be completed."

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