NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday said it would be unfair for international contractors to receive contracts for post-Hurricane Dorian reconstruction, when Bahamians are capable of doing it.
Davis’ comments come after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed that reconstruction efforts post-Dorian may require international contractors.
“It will not be fair for international contractors to come in to do work that Bahamians could do,” said Davis in a recent interview.
“I know of nothing that is beyond the capacity of Bahamian contractors.
“… So if the prime minister could identify what it is he thinks that Bahamians cannot do in this affair of building, he ought to be able to identify that and let the Bahamian people now.
“I am not aware of any works, building works, that Bahamians are not able to do.”
Davis noted that the only issue that he would be sympathetic with regarding Bahamian labor in the aftermath of the deadly storm, is supplementing the work force to aid the pace of the reconstruction and restoration efforts.
Minnis was responding to questions about the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s review of all Hurricane Dorian cleanup contracts.
Late last month, the authority’s Managing Director Kay-Forbes-Smith told Eyewitness News that they were not satisfied with the cleanup process thus far, after receiving complaints from residents in Abaco over the slow movement.
When he spoke to members of the media on the sidelines of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pledge conference on Monday, Minnis said Bahamians have to recognize their “limitations” and accept the possibility of being subcontractors behind a major contractor.
Minnis however insisted that this does not mean that Bahamians will be out of jobs.
Dorian pounded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama between September 1-3, claiming the lives of a confirmed 70 people — and displacing thousands.
In the aftermath of the storm the government commissioned several contractors to clear down the debris from the shantytowns on Abaco.
The Ministry of the Environment’s Debris Management Plan has established a timeline of 180 days to the total removal of debris.
It estimates there was 1.09 million cubic yards of debris in the Abaco districts and another 2.09 million cubic yard of debris in Grand Bahama.
The report also estimates more than 900 workers will be needed to execute the plan.
However, the report notes Abaco and Grand Bahama do not have enough qualified personnel to execute debris removal due to the scale of Hurricane Dorian’s impact.