Govt encouraging Grand Bahamians to seek Baha Mar job
The government is seeking to lower the high unemployment rate in Grand Bahama by encouraging all those who are seeking jobs to take advantage of the oncoming$2.6 billion Baha Mar development.
Government Senate Leader and Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said in the upper chamber yesterday that Grand Bahamians must seek to take advantage of the opportunities that will be made available.
“This is a wonderful experience for residents of Grand Bahama to take advantage of economic opportunities here in Nassau. The government and Baha Mar, and the China State Construction and Engineering Corporation will do all we can to facilitate that position,” Foulkes said just before traveling to Grand Bahama to hold a town meeting at Christ the King Parish Hall regarding the Baha Mar deal. Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of governmental and external affairs, was also scheduled to attend that meeting.
Unemployment in the nation’s second city now stands at 17 percent. From hotel workers, to mom and pop store owners, to clothing stores employees, hundreds of workers in the nation’s second city have been thrown on the unemployment line.
“Unemployment in Grand Bahama is probably the highest of our islands and so we want to focus on addressing the needs of Grand Bahamians from a training point of view, from an employment point of view and also(in terms of)contractors getting opportunities here in Nassau,” Foulkes said.
As a result of negotiations between Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the Chinese government, and subsequent negotiations between the Chinese government and Baha Mar, sub-contracts to Bahamians in connection with the Baha Mar project increased from $200 million to $400 million.
“This will be the largest award of contracts to Bahamian contractors on a single project. Contracts will be awarded to large, medium, small-scale and individual contractors. This is in keeping with my government’s commitment to deepening and broadening economic opportunities for all Bahamians,” Ingraham has said previously.
The Baha Mar project will be comprised of six hotels with approximately 3,500 rooms and condominiums, an approximately 100,000-square-foot casino, 200,000 square feet of convention facilities, a 20-acre beach and pool experience, an 18-hole golf course, a 60,000-square-foot retail village and additional residential developments.
“It is a $2.6 million project with$400 million allotted for Bahamian contractors. We are talking about close to 4,000 Bahamian workers in the construction phase and 7,000 when it is finished permanently. The prime minister is adamant about treating this project from the government’s point of view as a national project,” Foulkes said.
He added: “We are so pleased that we have a partner that we are working with, the Baha Mar owners and their management team that sees the project the same way.”