Construction is set to begin on the state-of-the-art North Abaco Port project in Cooper’s Town. The project is the result of a partnership between the governments of The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday, June 20 to officially mark the occasion. The $39 million port is being constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and facilitated by the Ministry of Works and Urban Development.
In attendance were Hope Strachan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport; Renardo Curry, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Abaco; Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary and other senior government officials.
Representatives of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Neil Campbell, Administrator for North Abaco District and the representatives of the Abaco community were also present at the event held on the site of the Port project.
Participating in the ceremony were Ms. Strachan, Mr. Curry, Felix Chang, Principal/Project Manager, CHEC and Tang Zhongdong, Regional Director, CHEC Americas.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, Philip Davis said the port will put in place the infrastructure to facilitate international trade and generate business revenue.
“Cooper’s Town specifically and by extension all of Abaco from Treasure Cay northwards including Green Turtle Cay and other offshore cays will reap the benefit of this investment and seize opportunities resulting therefrom,” he said.
Mr. Davis said approximately 80 Bahamians will be responsible for construction, trucking and operation of equipment on the project. Some 30 Chinese nationals will carry out project design and management. Over 80 Abaco based companies have already benefited from the project resulting in $1.3 million being injected into the economy. Eight temporary buildings have been erected for offices and accommodations for workers.
Minister Davis praised CHEC for its “good” display of corporate, social responsibility including donations to the elderly and needy children, environmental cleanup campaigns and provisions for victims of national disasters. He thanked CHEC for joining the Department of Social Services to provide aid to more than 100 individuals in Marsh Harbour whose homes were recently destroyed by fire.
He also expressed appreciation to CHEC for the friendly basketball game between Abaco residents and CHEC staff held prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.
He assured CHEC of his Ministry’s full cooperation to cause the project to be completed at the highest standard and on time.
Lin Xianjiang, Charge d’ Affaires in the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, said the port facility is an important economic cooperation project between China and The Bahamas that will promote economic development and employment for The Bahamas, Abaco in particular.
Construction of the 45.4 acre port is being funded by the Export Import Bank of China and the Government of The Bahamas and is expected to be completed in 18 months. Civil Caribbean Group has been appointed employers’ representative and will administer the public works’ contract.
Following the ceremony members of the Abaco community led a Junkanoo Rush Out.