Another tragic death illustrates the clash of cultures

A Chinese supervisor was tragically killed in a fatal accident at the Ramu nickel mine site at Kurumbukari yesterday.

The supervisor had instructed a local worker to climb onto a load of pipes that had arrived on a delivery truck to untie the ropes securing the load. When the man sensibly refused to do as he had been instructed, as it was clearly unsafe, his supervisor decided to demonstrate that it was perfectly okay by doing the job himself.

Unfortunately, as the supervisor loosened the ropes the pipes moved and he lost his balance and fell to the ground where he was crushed to death by the pipes as they slipped off the truck.

This unfortunate accident highlights the daily clash of cultures between the Chinese and indigenous Papua New Guineans. For the Chinese health and safety and the life of a peasant worker is as nothing compared to the needs of the State and the greater purpose of the Nation while of course in PNG the life of the individual and his family is everything.

Sadly, more deaths are inevitable as the mine nears its commissioning phase and we must ask the question; if the Chines operators of the mine – the Chinese Metallurical Construction company (MCC) – cannot stop a fire in its kitchen because of shoddy construction, can rip the genitals off a worker because there is no safety equipment available; and if one of their own supervisors can tragically kill themselves doing something patently unsafe; what hope can we have that they will not destroy the Ramu river; that their pipeline will not leak; and, that their submarine tailings disposal will not destroy our marine environment?



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9 responses to “Another tragic death illustrates the clash of cultures

  1. Joe Booker Depp

    It has saddened me to read that the Mine Management is not giving due consideration to health and safety issues which, in today’s corporate world, is something that is of paramount importance. In the Chinese Culture, they obviously do not care about lives lost, all they are interested in is that they want to make more money and set-up business empires around the world to compete with the west. I am aware that the NA-Government was already bribed with a substantial sum of money so that means, so long as NA is in power, they will never do anything to address these issues. The mine is no doubt undervalued as well that needs thorough investigation with engagement of independent local and international experts.

    By reading the past issues on the MCC, I’m also worried about the plight of the poor landowners whose livelihoods have been severely compromised by the company management not by good ethical means but through coercions and intimidation with the use of the police. This shows lack of respect for human rights. The effects the waste disposal (tailings) will have on the marine resources is also going to be adverse. We (PNG) stand to lose our lucrative tuna niche market if international customers become aware of such malpractices since disposal of cyanide and other harmful chemicals can have negative effects on the food chain that has the potential of adversely affect human lives such as cancer, deformed births etc…

    The argument then is, are we going to let this happen to our people. The answer really is in our hands. Let’s vote this corrupt NA-Government out of power by 2012.

  2. Petrus

    Murphy’s Law Prevails once again!! Byrd’s Pyramid showed MCC that a fatality was not far of. And yet they refused to put in place Safety audits. Now they have a fatality. Wonder what’s next…maybe multiple casualties? Lucky for the local to refuse that job. If he had not, then he will be in a morgue by now.

    Such jobs, if correctly done will require a JHA/JSA for that particular job. Toolbox meetings should have been conducted in the crew doing that job and all hazards identified, one of which is the likelihood of pipes slipping. A crane should have used chain to tied a certain number of pipes and lift them off the truck and place them on the ground.

    The PNG Government will now need to shut this mine down and order a full-scale HSE audit and check through all Operational Protocols for the industry before many more lives are lost. A life is a priceless thing. Papua New Guineans do not need to die reckless deaths trying to dig up some “dirt” because of some company operating here without proper safety procedures and experience in global HSE RULES. ….Petrus Amban (mo).

  3. Simon

    While the motives of wordpress may be genuine (I don’t know who you are and where you are), the lack of good analysis is disturbing! So you say ” For the Chines health and safety and the life of a peasant worker is as nothing compared to the needs of the State”. And that’s the clash of cultures? Please wake up! You think hundreds of millions of Chinese don’t care about health and safety, you think Chines women don’t care if their husbands die at their job, you think Chinese children don’t miss this daddy when he never comes home again? This is not about culture, this is about power, about making money, about exploitation. You may think MCC is a disaster, and I think you’re right, but don’t call it culture. Blame the company, not the Chinese. And please, don’t start an ethnic war…..

    • Patriot missile aimed at MCC

      As much as we all would like to be politically correct, this IS an ethnic war and it is being fought on our very doorstep. We give them an inch and take over a kilometer. We give them a girl and they take over our village. We give them a mine and they will – mark my words – take over our country! it isn’t just MCC it’s the country –
      C-H-I-N-A and its government. Exploitation? what about the Papua New Guinean workers who are exploited and intimidated and bullied? What about the racial segregation that happens at Basamuk and Kurumbukari? Why is MCC building separate living quarters for Chinese workers? Why does MCC have a Chinese mess and a National mess? and why do they have a Chinese line and a PNG line at the Basamuk mess? Who is being exploited? Forgive me for being narrow minded, racist and politically incorrect. But do you think the Chinese care about who it stomps over?

  4. Simon

    Great to have your reply! Don’t worry about being politically incorrect. That really isn’t an issue for me. It is good to speak out what you think. (I was wondering what ‘politically correct’ would mean in PNG? In my country it used to mean things like being civilized, tolerant, but currently it is has become more being rude, blaming immigrants for all problems) Personally, I wouldn’t support racism.
    I agree Papua New Guinea workers being exploited. By MCC, backed by Chinese government. And not the least by your own government, which allows MCC and many others to exploit your country. You know why? Well, may be for money? Just saying that Chinese workers in China are exploited as well.
    What you explain about MCC mess, yes, that’s racism alright. But will you stop that by being racist yourself? I don’t think so. Racism never solved any problem. It only creates problems.
    Anyway, keep up the good work. Fight for justice.

  5. Chief M.O.N.D.I.A.I

    the cultural difference will drive the ramu project down, the ramu river. see their proejct management experience in PNG in the 1990s…Vailala Forestry Project, due to poor safety standards, many PNG and Chinese died on site.

    So up to the Government Agencies responsible for health and safety to do something responsibly.

    On another note, the MCC Engineerin gStatndsrds are poor…I have seen the pipeline from Usino Junction to Erima trun off, very poor and is a lousy job compromising, safety, health for teh travelling public and environment.

  6. Tevita

    what the hell is racism? what does it mean? and what the hell does it mean to be un/civilised? so do i stop and let these slant eyes to simply take us for a ride because i don’t want to be labelled a racist or uncivilised or whatever you want to call me?

    if chinese want to exploit chinese, by all means go ahead and do so. who cares. but don’t even dream about exploiting papua new guineans in papua new guinea!

    and yes it’s a clash of cultures. we don’t go to such extreme exploitation in our culture. the chinese do – maybe not traditional but business culture.

  7. Dabbie

    This is clear negligence by the company that has resulted in these casualties.

    As a simple Papua New Guinean, I fail to understand how approvals can be granted to companies who are unable to meet any one of set requirements whether it be health, safety, environmental etc…

    Sad to say that it’s happening everywhere in PNG, even right in the nation’s capital…few months ago an asian and a national fell off the newly constructed Vision City building next to the traffic lights because of lack of proper safety equipments resulting in the death of the asian. It happened during the peak hours when hundreads of people were watching from their cars and PMV buses. A very sad state indeed!

    It’s a question now asked by every one whether the building is safe at all. It is logical that if the builders built in fear then what gurantee is there that the building is safe for use???

    Come to think of it all, one can ask whether the controls are still intacked or not? We do not want to see our people, land and heritage perish because of greed for MONEY.

  8. Ross

    This is what has happened to our nation, we have effectively sold it at dirt cheap prices to a foreign government. It brings tears to my eyes when i think about the problems that will be happening over the next 20years of this mine. I cant even begin to think about what lies ahead for us all.

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