4,500 jobs on Baha Mar site
More than 4,000 Bahamians will be employed during the construction phase of Baha Mar, including during the core phase of the highly anticipated$2.6 billion project, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced yesterday.
It was initially projected that 1,200 Bahamians will be engaged in the construction of the non-core project including the new West Bay Street, the new Commercial Village and the initial site preparation for the core project.
“It is now contemplated that, as a result of the doubling of the contracts to be executed by the Bahamian firms, the number of Bahamians to be engaged on the project during construction is likely to be as many as 4,500,”said Ingraham in the House of Assembly yesterday before tabling the amended Baha Mar heads of agreement.
As reported previously,$400 million worth of contracts will be awarded to Bahamian contractors, up from the originally planned$200 million.
The prime minister said yesterday that Bahamian work on the core project will include core project site work(demolition of existing buildings, construction of underground utilities, earth works, parking lots and lights); the Baha Mar convention center; the Hyatt timeshare villas; several free-standing buildings(restaurants, bars, shops, etc,); and landscape and irrigation scope work, among other things.
“This is in keeping with the government’s commitment to the deepening and broadening of economic opportunities for all Bahamians,”Ingraham said.
The Baha Mar agreement has also been amended to ensure that employees at the Wyndham Nassau Resort are not disengaged during the renovation period, Ingraham said.
“While the Wyndham Nassau Resort will be closed for renovation for 12 months following the opening of the last of Baha Mar’s new hotels, the existing Wyndham Nassau Resort staff would be redeployed to the new hotel.
“If 12 months prior to substantial completion of the development economic circumstances warrant, the Wyndham Nassau Resort will remain open.”
The amended and restated heads of agreement also include a number of additional renegotiated clauses.
The prime minister said land at Arawak Cay will no longer be sold to Baha Mar if used as the site for a marina, as was agreed in the 2005 agreement. Instead, he said the land will be leased if used as a site for a marina.
Additionally, he said the casino operator must be identified and communicated to the government no later than six months prior to the opening of the hotel.
Ingraham said the government will receive$10.75 million owed to it by Baha Mar in outstanding casino fees when the new casino opens.
However, he said Baha Mar has paid several outstanding bills including$48.3 million in taxes, further stamp duty of approximately$27 million, and$8.5 million owed to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Ingraham added that additional sums will be paid to the government upon the transfer of the Commonwealth Bank and the Fidelity Bank premises.
The China State Construction Engineering Corporation will be required to pay approximately$28.5 million to the government. Ingraham explained that the fee, which is 1.5 percent of the contract value, is paid by all non-Bahamian companies. The contract is worth a little over$1.9 billion.
Ingraham noted that the amended agreement”brings a conclusion to all the necessary steps to enable the commencement of the actual redevelopment of an important and historic area in the Bahamian tourism establishment.”
“Such a redevelopment has been highly desirable for some time and its long anticipation relates to the traditional contribution the area has made to the Bahamian economy through tourism,”he said.
Ingraham said the project clearly requires an enormous effort to achieve the development objectives.
“Indeed, it is its enormity which is the principal challenge of this undertaking. It has now come through all its paces by a spirit of dogged determination and a clear sense of purpose which should bode well for its prospects and future,”he added.
To date, subcontracts issued to Bahamians total approximately$54.3 million, the prime minister noted.
Baha Mar has scheduled its groundbreaking ceremony for February 21 and construction on the new West Bay Street will commence before the end of this month.