Former President of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) Leonard Sands said yesterday that he is incensed at the suggestion that work at The Pointe will be held up because Chinese labor has been restricted from entering the country due to the coronavirus travel ban, and called on The Pointe to hire the numerous local workers who can help to finish project and at the same time realign the employment ratio set out in the project’s heads of agreement.
Sands also contended that the discrepancy in the work force ratio at The Pointe continues to set a bad precedent for foreign investment in The Bahamas.
The heads of agreement between China Construction America (CCA) and the government called for the labor ratio at The Pointe to be 70 percent Bahamian and 30 percent foreign, but it has been discovered by the Ministry of Labour that the development was in breach of the labor ratio.
Sands said it concerns him that Chinese Embassy officials have stated that The Pointe’s completion might be held up because the ban on travel is preventing Chinese workers’ return to New Providence while there are unemployed people in nearby Over-the-Hill communities.
“We already have an investor that has breached terms of a heads of agreement with the government and people of The Bahamas,” he said.
“It agreed that it would build a resort with the majority of the labor for the majority of the project being 70 percent Bahamian and 30 percent foreign. We have already conducted numerous investigations that have proven that it is the reverse.
“And the project stated that it would be almost 100 percent Bahamian when the structural phase was complete. We are at literally the eleventh hour of the project.
“If there is no room for D, E and G (grade) students, construction somehow saves them. But when you exclude them from that opportunity, no wonder our crime statistics are so high. They could be otherwise working with hammers and saws, and now they are taking up guns and knives.
“Unemployment numbers could have been lower…just over the hill to the south of the point lives Bain and Grants Town residents. It would have been so nice to see them walking up the hill to go to The Pointe to work. Instead, we see nationals from the Republic of China walking from the hotel across the street to their job, enjoying the benefits of this country that we’re not.”
Sands said many of the concessions of the heads agreement should be rescinded because of the labor breach. And he insisted that The Pointe’s labor breach is “not sending the right message” to other foreign investors.
“It has financial implications for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said.
Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said this week that a new assessment on the worker ratio at the Pointe cannot yet be done because two of CCA’s managers recently traveled to China and now cannot get back into The Bahamas.
“We haven’t done a new assessment yet, but we are in the process of doing that,” he said.
“We had spoken to the principals of The Pointe. Unfortunately, both of the main managers are in China. They went for the new year and unfortunately, because of the virus, they were unable to return to The Bahamas.”