Abaco residents crowded the halls of China Harbour Engineering Company’s (CHEC) town hall meeting in Coopers Town on Monday as the government announced construction activity to start in two months on the $39 million North Abaco Port Development.
The construction phase of the project is to be funded by the Export Import Bank of China and the government of The Bahamas and is estimated to be a roughly two year project. Government and local hope the project will be a major boost to the economy of Coopers Town and Abaco.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis expressed his support of the construction of the project during the town hall meeting, saying there are many benefits to stem from this port development.
“A modern infrastructure transportation facility to facilitate international trade, generate new business revenues from all the things that will be built up around this,” said the Minister of Works about the project. “It will engage Bahamian service providers and suppliers. And of course we expect our trade between China and Bahamas to improve.”
Principal of CHEC Bahamas, Felix Chang, said a minimum of one-third of the project’s investment would be shared throughout the community directly and indirectly. Already, more than 70 local companies have been contracted for works in the past several months leading up to construction start.
“There will be job opportunities, skills training, the purchase of construction material and equipment supplied locally,” said Mr. Chang. “There will be openness and transparency, community activities, Bahamian and Chinese cultural efforts and sponsorship of sports competition.”
Residents of Abaco were urged to listen for more news on an upcoming job fair that will be hosted by CHEC as the team looks to engage more residents of Abaco on the project.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis told the town hall attendees that his ministry was working along with CHEC to make sure the development happened on time, on schedule and used the maximum amount of Bahamian services.
“The topographic and hypo graphic surveys for dredging have been completed, the geo-technical work has been completed and the coastal engineering work has been completed,” said Mr. Davis. “We expect them to be in our ministry in the next three weeks for our sign off. So starting within the next six weeks, I can say now, there will be some hiring, very minimal hiring to be ready for the so be ready for the ‘go’ sign in six weeks’ time.
“It’s expected to take two years to be completed, so here in Abaco you can expect much activity… for at least two years. There’s at least $39 million being pumped into North Abaco and all of you ought to be sharing in this.”