Bahamas Contractors Association (BCA) President Leonard Sands said he is unimpressed with the meager 33 per cent Bahamian workforce on China Construction America’s (CCA) The Pointe development in Downtown, Nassau.
Last week, Director of Labour John Pinder told Eyewitness News that 33 per cent of persons employed at the development are Bahamians and said, he was pleased that the number was trending towards the contractually agreed ratio.
The Pointe heads of agreement (HOA) calls for the majority of work on the project to be done by Bahamians, with a specific 70 to 30 per cent ratio.
In a telephone interview last Friday, Sands told Eyewitness News that the new ratio evaluation is still “not keeping in line with the HOA”.
While Sands acknowledged the “slight” increase, he said he is still very displeased, as the BCA was never involved nor considered in the deciding factor of which Bahamian(s) are qualified to handle the job.
“We are encouraged by the increase in numbers and we note that it is slightly higher than was reported however, it still does not match the criteria set out in the HOA. So, we maintain our opposition, (again) based on the HOA,” Sands said.
“We would like to have an opportunity to have a meeting to sit and discuss with The Pointe development and the minister of labour and the director of labour, just to find out the particulars of how the numbers will increase for contractors and highly skilled Bahamians who are ready to be engaged at the project.
“… We are willing to sit down and learn as much as possible from the parties and the stakeholders as to how and when the numbers of contractors and Bahamians can meet the 70 per cent local versus 30 per cent foreigners hired.”
When the project initially came under scrutiny earlier this year for its foreign to Bahamian ratio, CCA reasoned that it could not meet the 70/30 ratio of Bahamian to foreign labour, as there were no Bahamians “skilled enough” to do the work.
“We don’t really have a firm response to that except, our average response which is, we believe that Bahamians can handle any work on that development and have exhibited for many, many years that we can do so,” he said.
“There are heavy marine contractors who have done tens of millions of dollars of work on the seabeds in the past.
“Case in point, Baha Mar’s work was done with Bahamian contractors …we (BCA) are just trying to find out when there will be an opportunity opened up for the many, many contractors to be engaged and show what Bahamians can really do.”