Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard fears Bahamians will be treated as “second class citizens” with regard to a new power station slated to be installed at Clifton Pier.
BPL has announced that it has contracted Wartsila, a Finnish technology group, to install a new $95 million 132-megawatt engine power plant. The installation is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2019.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said, “We are going to have to make sure that we fully rely on the experts to come in and do what they do best. We do not have anybody inside of BPL today that would understand Wartsila four-stroke engines. And so, we are relying on Wartsila to come and do what they do best around the world.”
When reached for a comment, Maynard said, “I’m very concerned because, number one, you’re telling me that you’re bringing in foreigners to [install] the engines. We have Bahamians who can do it… Listen, this country is paying $95 million. We’re supposed to be in charge of this. They’re not giving it to us for free.”
However, Edmund Phillips, business development specialist for Wartsila, said the company will “always seek local labor first” and will aim to “use local staff where applicable”.
The engines will be manufactured in Trieste, Italy, and are expected to leave Italy in late March, according to Phillips.
He said it will take roughly two months to arrive in The Bahamas and four months to install.
“Now, to install these engines requires specialized skill sets so as a result of that what we typically do, when we travel to these islands, we first seek local help,” Phillips said.
“If we can’t find local help, then we will bring in international personnel with the required experience to install the plant… I can’t say the exact number of local staff that we will go out and find because it varies once the work starts.”
Maynard said Bahamian engineers can be trained and gain the necessary skills for the engines in the time it will take for the engines to be made and shipped to The Bahamas.