Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) President Michael Pratt said Thursday that while those in the construction sector are grateful that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has allowed the industry to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the emergency orders put in place to guard against the spread of the virus are still causing some impediments to construction.
Minnis announced on Monday that development projects under consideration by the government will be fast-tracked and that the government would move to begin capital works projects in earnest, all in an effort to restart employment in the construction sector in a meaningful way.
However, Pratt said some emergency powers, like the travel restrictions, are in the way of the construction industry carrying out its work unimpeded. He said there is worry that if those impediments are not addressed, members of the sector could miss out on the prime minister’s announced projects.
He added that access to financing will also be important for contractors.
“BCA would like to thank the prime minister for responding to the concerns and suggestions from the construction industry,” said Pratt.
“We’re happy to hear that our industry is going to continue, but we do have some challenges.
“We’re appealing to our members to continue to follow the restrictions, but also appealing for the authorities to give us some assistance to be able to get our contractors back on the ground properly or when these approvals come in.
“One of our biggest impediments is… we can open up, we can have all the opportunities, but if we don’t have access to financing that’s going to continue to hold back a lot of contractors who have opportunities.”
Pratt said industry professionals are hoping to be involved in the process of vetting those projects the government is hoping to fast-track, so as to not miss any opportunities and to bring more transparency to the process.
According to Pratt, a manpower and qualification challenge also continues to impede the sector, as well as a housing challenge on Abaco, where there are a lot of projects still to complete as the island approaches one year since Hurricane Dorian struck.