Chinese embassy assessing impact of travel ban on Pointe

The Bahamian government’s decision to ban non residents who recently traveled to China from entering The Bahamas has created “an inconvenience” for Chinese projects in The Bahamas, Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo said yesterday.

Last month, the government announced that residents with a recent history of travel to China will be placed in isolation as a precaution to prevent the introduction of the novel coronavirus into the Bahamian jurisdiction.

Seven people are currently in quarantine, according to Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, who explained that they are being quarantined until they have been out of China for 14 days.

During a press conference at the Chinese Embassy, Huang said, “Those measures taken by the Bahamian side [do] create an inconvenience for the people to people exchange… The ongoing project of The Pointe has been affected.

“Some workers and technicians cannot return to The Bahamas because of the travel ban. I noticed also…the Minister of Labour Mr. [Dion] Foulkes expressed concern of the timely completion of the project. We hope these measures can be lifted at an early date to ensure the normal economic and trade cooperation of the two sides.”

He added, “We’re assessing the influence at this moment.”

On Wednesday, Foulkes said this has stalled progress on addressing the ratio of Bahamian to foreign workers at The Pointe.

The matter of the percentage of Bahamian employees at The Pointe has been a concern for some time.

Last June, Foulkes said there were discrepancies between the ministry’s worker count and the figures provided by The Pointe.

He said The Pointe presented reports to the ministry that indicated the number of Bahamian workers was much higher than the ministry’s own surveys found.

Foulkes said last month that the same problem of conflicting figures persisted.

He said The Pointe claims the ratio of workers changes significantly depending on when and what time of day the assessments are conducted.

Yesterday, Haigang Yin, the embassy’s counselor and spokesman, said the embassy’s position is “if there is an agreement, this agreement should be respected”.

“…Also, the Chinese encourage, always encourages the Chinese companies to hire as many Bahamian employees,” Haigang said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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