Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The landmark Baha Mar deal is the first of its kind for the Caribbean construction sector, according to Head of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) Stephen Wrinkle, who says the project will help improve skills in the Bahamian construction industry.
The $2.6 billion project, which will redevelop 1,000 acres of the Cable Beach strip on New Providence into a luxury resort, signals a new era for the industry says Wrinkle who has worked with the financial backers and contractors to thrash out the details and believes that the structure of the deal is a first for the Caribbean.
“This is a new approach to large projects. All the Caribbean will be watching us closely and we will be able to walk away with a template that will work for the whole region,” he says.
If approved by the government, Baha Mar will include a 3,000 room hotel, 18-hole golf course, spa, casino and shopping and entertainment complex. It is funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and the China State Construction Corp with the bulk of the construction work being carried out by the latter. Wrinkle says that the agreement between the Chinese and Bahamian partners not only sets aside around 4,000 jobs for local workers, but also commits to furthering skills by hosting training activities.
“The intent is to employ as many Bahamian companies and workers as possible. [The Chinese partners] have committed to hosting seminars, workshops and educational talks for our construction industry. The BCA will play a lead role in coordinating this work,” explains Wrinkle.
The BCA leader is also optimistic about the way the Chinese contractors are consulting with local and US firms which, he says, will ensure sharing of skills and raise standards throughout the sector.
“They will be managing the work but it is going to be a multinational job.”
It is hoped that this new way of working will create a more sustainable construction industry and help it recover from the effects of the recent recession.
“Baha Mar should single-handedly resurrect this economy because the trickle down is just widespread. What Atlantis [Paradise Island] did in three phases, this is going to do in one. We are on the brink of a major upswing in our economy,” says Wrinkle.
George Myers, Chairman of the Myers Group, which sold the former Radisson Cable Beach Resort to Baha Mar Resorts in 2005, is also optimistic about the impact Baha Mar will have on the country’s tourism sector.
“A successful Cable Beach will ensure a more successful tourism industry for The Bahamas and the country will benefit,” he says.
Once the project is approved, Bahamian contractors will begin the first phase of demolition work. Local firms are also expected to build a convention centre and commercial village. The entire resort is expected to be complete by the end of 2013 and is forecast to contribute $11.2 billion to the gross domestic product of The Bahamas over a 20-year period.