Govt signs newdeal with Chinese
The government yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding(MOU)with a Chinese construction company to carry out infrastructure work on three Family Islands.
The government will now begin negotiations with the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd.(CHEC)to design and build the North Abaco Port and by-pass road; a bridge between Little and Great Abaco; a port and by-pass highway in Exuma; and the Eleuthera Glass Window Bridge and approaching embankments.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Neko Grant, who was at the MOU signing ceremony yesterday at the Ministry of Finance, said CHEC will complete technical designs, financial evaluations and submit project proposals to the government by April 26.
When it receives the proposals, the government will review and approve them, which will include the design and estimates, Grant added.
The government will then submit a loan application for consideration by the China Export Import Bank by June 30.
Grant was yesterday unable to provide the approximate cost of the projects or the amount that the government will seek to borrow from the Chinese bank. He said the government will not know exactly how much the projects will cost until the proposals are submitted.
However, the projects areexpected to start by the end of this year and be complete by December 2012.
“These projects have all been deemed necessary to enhance mobility of residents and to facilitate further development of tourism along with other industries on these islands,” Grant said.
“The signing of this MOU and the anticipated construction works will bring much needed relief to residents of these Family Islands who have over the years experienced great inconvenience and risk to personal safety in accessing the mentioned structures,” he added.
Grant pointed out that the main port and their access roads on Abaco and Exuma are regularly congested with traffic, and have all outgrown their existing facilities.
The new port facilities will be constructed at Conch Rock, near Cooper’s Town, North Abaco and at the Navy Dock site near George Town, Exuma, Grant said. Construction of the by-pass road will include the provision of utilities including water and electricity supply.
The construction of the bridges at Little Abaco and at the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera will replace the existing structures, which have fallen into a state of disrepair over the years.
“In the case of the Abaco bridge, an important waterway with significant environmental and ecological enhancements will be restored. The works at Glass Window Bridge will include reconstruction of the approach highway, which like the new bridge will be aligned to the west of the existing structures,”Grant explained.
He added:”This realignment will serve to circumvent dangerous wave activity from the Atlantic Ocean to the east that often renders the bridge impassable to pedestrians and vehicular traffic during adverse weather conditions.
Grant said the Chinese contractors will partner with local companies throughout all phases of the work, including the preliminary phase.
Zhongdong Tang, regional director of the CHEC, said his company will endeavor to complete all works on time.
He promised the construction company would provide the”best performance in The Bahamas.”
CHEC specializes in building ports and bridges among other things.