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In an ongoing effort to crack down on crime on the streets of New Providence, police launched three separate operations Thursday, resulting in the arrests of 16 men.
Two of the operations took place in the northeastern area of New Providence between Thursday night and Friday morning.
In those operations, five men were arrested on outstanding warrants; two for housebreaking; three for causing harm; one for threats of harm and one in reference to assault with a deadly weapon.
The third operation occurred in the area of West Bay Street near the Cable Beach Post Office; in that operation, 101 drivers were ticketed for various traffic violations.
Police also arrested four men on outstanding warrants.
Police and government officials have vowed to get even tougher on crime in recent months.
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage said in August that the country's crime rate had fallen by nine percent between January 1 and July 24 of this year compared to the same period for 2011.
However, those statistics did not include figures for attempted murder, attempted robbery and stealing from vehicles.
In June, Assistant Commissioner of Police Hulan Hanna said police had started saturation patrols on New Providence.
Hanna said Bahamians needed to know that police were on hand to prevent offenses from taking place.
UNDER the distinguished patronage of Phil and Bridgette Smith, the Roadrunners Track & Field Club held its 11th Annual Presentation and Awards Banquet Saturday at the Wyndham resort, Cable Beach.
The theme of this year's event was "Achievement: Accepting No Limitation - A Pillar of Excellence; An Attitude of Success". Minister of Education Desmond Bannister was the keynote speaker.
The club, headed by coach Dexter Bodie, presented awards to about 100 members for their achievement during the past track and field and academic year.
One of the highlights was the recognition of O'Jay Ferguson, who is presently the fastest male junior athlete in the Bahamas. H ...
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday blasted former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's change of heart on the upcoming gambling referendum stating it is "shameful".
Ingraham, who previously said he would not vote on Monday, announced at a press conference yesterday that he intends to vote no and urged Bahamians to do likewise.
"If Hubert Ingraham wants to settle a political score with the PLP over the failed 2002 referendum, then he should be a man and say so," said Roberts, referring to the failed constitutional referendum brought by the Ingraham administration.
"If he is opposing the referendum because he is not driving it then he should show some backbone and say so.
"This attempt to cowardly demonize the web shop owners and workers and use them as scapegoats is unseemly, petty and hypocritical.
"I urge all Bahamians to firstly ignore Ingraham.
"Secondly, I urge all Bahamians to exercise their rights and go out and vote their conscience on Referendum Day."
Ingraham said the march to Parliament led by web shop owners on Wednesday convinced him to change his position.
He was referring to a march by more than 1,000 Vote Yes supporters, including web shop owners Craig Flowers (FML), Sebas Bastian (Island Luck) and Davon Jones (Whatfall) among others.
On Monday, Ingraham said he was not going to vote in the referendum because the question of casino gambling was absent from the ballot.
"Well a number of FNM supporters have spoken to me and expressed their alarm at my non participation in the referendum and I was particularly moved as a result of yesterday's demonstration," said Ingraham at his law office on Cable Beach.
"It is an unfathomable thing to see the operators of a numbers business, including one of whom was convicted in the courts of The Bahamas, [march to Parliament]."
Roberts said Ingraham's comments seem strange as his administration had once tried to regulate the sector.
In 2010, Ingraham had explored the possibility of legalizing web shops, but abandoned the idea after strong objections from church leaders.
He announced at the time that he would put the matter to referendum if his party won the government again.
The former administration also drafted a bill to govern computer wagering.
"Ingraham obviously bit his tongue when he said, 'the blatant disrespect and disregard of the laws of our land (by web shop operators and workers) is intolerable to (him)'," Roberts said.
"This cannot be the same man who invited the web shop owners to make their financial statements available to the then FNM government in an effort to formulate an equitable taxation regime for that industry that he fully intended to legalize and regulate."
Earlier this week, Roberts stated that the PLP was urging voters to vote yes. He later retracted that statement, saying the official PLP position is that voters should vote their conscience.
The outbreak of dengue fever in New Providence is driving the sale of the popular insect repellant OFF!.
One consumer said in an interview that she went to two stores before being able to get the item.
"I went to the smaller stores in the Carmichael area - the Chinese stores," Margaret Beneby said.
"They were both out. Their stocks were not probably major to begin with, but I was told that OFF! was their biggest seller."
Justina Adderley had a similar experience.
"I went to Supervalue in Cable Beach last week looking for OFF! because my mom is going to Harbour Island and we asked the worker and he said they were out," she said.
That store has since replenished it's stock, according to a representative.
Nikki Simmons, marketing manager at City Market, told The Nassau Guardian that OFF! is also moving off their shelves quickly.
Simmons said sales picked up over the last three weeks. Sales increased further, she added, following a press conference held at the Ministry of Health last week when Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed a growth in the number of reported dengue fever cases.
Simmons said City Market is in the process of ordering additional shipments of OFF!.
"We're being as proactive as we can," she said.
Additionally, the chain has been giving out informational flyers to its customers, Simmons said.
Last week, health officials reported that there were more than 1,500 recorded cases of dengue fever in New Providence.
However, that number likely has grown significantly, as scores of people continue to flock to public and private health care facilties with symptoms of the virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, eye pain and joint pain.
The large number of cases this year has burdened the public health care system.
The government has urged citizens to ensure there is no standing water in their yards in order to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading the virus.
Over the past week there have been an average of 100 reported cases per day of dengue fever, according to estimates from the Ministry of Health.
Nassau, Bahamas - The Bahamas
Society of Engineers held its inaugural Engineering, Design and
Construction Conference at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort on Friday,
Among those in attendance was the Hon. Phenton Neymour, Minister of
State in the Ministry of the Environment. The theme for the one-day
conference was "Building A Better Future..."
SuperClubs Breezes yesterday said it would pay staff a percentage of their wages to minimse the impact of its two-month closure until November 1, 2011, as it moves to repair roof damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
Explaining in a statement that it was impossible to keep the property open while the repairs were taking place, the Cable Beach-based resort said it had no option but to temporarily lay-off staff for two months starting on September 1.
Apart from paying staff a percentage of their wages, SuperClubs Breezes encouraged them to take accrued vacation so they could receive full pay for two weeks.
The resort added that some staff would remain in areas such as housekeeping, food and beverage, ...
The $2.6 billion Baha Mar project is 25 percent complete, according to Vice President of China State Construction Tiger Wu, who said yesterday the 850 construction workers currently on-site have a herculean task ahead of them if they are to meet the 2014 completion deadline.
However, Wu said as the project goes along he expects more expatriate workers to come in to assist.
"The workers are coming in on a regular basis based on the needs of the project," Wu told reporters shortly after he took Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and his wife Lady Joan Foulkes on a tour of the construction site.
"So they come in every month based on the needs of the construction."
Of the 850 people working on the ground, most are Chinese workers. However, Wu could not provide an exact number of expatriate workers currently on the project.
As the tour progressed, more than 100 Chinese workers weaved through the site towards the man camp during their lunch break. Some had taped straw brims around their hard hats to help protect them from the sun.
Of the four hotels under construction the casino hotel has advanced the most.
"The casino hotel has reached the 12th floor. The convention hotel, the second four star hotel, it's on the fifth level right now," Wu said. "And the two five star hotels, the Rosewood and Morgan hotels, are under construction at this moment."
Work also continues on Cable Beach.
Beach access surrounding the Baha Mar property is blocked by boulders and a long sea wall to facilitate a beach restoration exercise.
Additionally, Wu said the two towers at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino will be demolished by the end of the year.
"So we have about a quarter of the project completed," he said. "But we still have lots of works. And I don't know if you have seen a rendering of the project and see that there are lots of external works, all the poles, landscaping work, bridges, and show lakes.
"And so it'll be quite an undertaking to get the whole project delivered. The completion date for the total project is December 2014. That's when we want the whole project complete."
Following the tour, Sir Arthur said he is pleased with the project and the level of work.
"This whole project represents a tremendous vote of confidence in our Bahamas, the Bahamian people, in the economy of The Bahamas and in our institutions and in our political stability," he said. "This is a huge vote of confidence. It is going to benefit us on many levels. As I said it underlines that confidence that the investing world has in The Bahamas.
"It will provide jobs for Bahamians in the future. It will provide good paying jobs and I think it's just quite wonderful."
Nassau, Bahamas - The Bahamas - Marking
its 20th anniversary, Bahamas Business Outlook (BB0) is scheduled to
take place January 13, 2011 at the Wyndham Nassau Resort, Cable Beach.
was in 1992 that The Counsellors Ltd, (TCL) developers and organizers of BBO,
launched the forum, with Ernst & Young, chartered accountants. Widely regarded as the foremost event of
its kind, BBO was created to assemble experts and other knowledgeable informants
from various sectors to present well- considered views and statistics to make
predictions on the economic outlook for the year. The symposium has steadily
grown in popularity to the point where it has been attracting an attendance of
hundreds for some years now...
Bahamas - The Government is committed to scouting for potentially great
athletes in the country and preparing them for the 2016 Olympics and
other future sporting events, the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry
made the statement during a press conference on the Bahamas men's 4x4
metre relay team gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. The quartet of
Ramon Miller, Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, and Michael Mathieu paid a
Courtesy Call on the Prime Minister at his Cable Beach office on
Tuesday, August 14, 2012...
Nassau, Bahamas - Prime Minister the Right Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham has
confirmed his participation as keynote speaker at Bahamas Business Outlook (BBO)
2011. Under the theme
Bahamian Economy: Fact, Fiction or the Real Alternative?", the premier
event is scheduled to take place Thursday, January 13, 2011 at the Wyndham
Nassau Resort, Cable Beach.
Following Prime Minister Ingraham to the podium will be a series
of dynamic speakers, who will inform on a range of timely subjects including tourism, financial services, agriculture,
telecommunications, oil exploration, entrepreneurship...
Members of the men's national volleyball team believe the best way to move onto the next qualification round for the World Championships is to win the second at home in front of a large crowd.
With a regional title and first round win under its belt, The Bahamas' men's squad was spiked the hometown favorite by the North, Central American and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) for the qualification tournament. Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF) executives are making preparations and will meet with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, to confirm the hosting. The qualification round will be played at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs gymnasium, May 11-12. The last time the federation hosted an event was in 2006, and that was the Caribbean championships. This is the first qualifier the BVF will stage."The Bahamas Volleyball Federation is in the process of writing the letter to the ministry for permission to host the event," said Joseph Smith, first vice president in the BVF. "That letter to the ministry should secure the venue and give us the permission to host. It won't be one that will request financial assistance, but moreso the approval so we can forward it to NORCECA.
"Once we can get that approval then we will deal with the National Sports Authority and face any other challenges that may arise. But one of our concerns is accessing the gym. The area is still under construction, and parking is not as clear cut as it use to be in the past. So, hopefully, we should have final words from both of them in a week or two. We need to secure a meeting with the minister to let him know exactly what we are doing and what we plan to do as well."
Meetings with hotel executives, transportation and food vendors are also priorities for the federation. Right now, according to Smith, the executives are looking at the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, SuperClubs Breezes and the Royal Palm Hotel. Smith said he's awaiting another communication from Mushtaque Mohammed, president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA). That document, Smith stated, should have all the requirements the federation will need.
He said: "I think the higher the round is and level you play at, the more upscale everything must be. Even the hotels must be at a high standard. So if you did a two star hotel in round one, the hotel must be three or four star in the next round. We are waiting on that information from NORCECA so we can know exactly what hotel on the Cable Beach strip to book. The confirmation that will be sent back to the board will basically be for the accommodations or hotels, transportations and venue. They also ask federations to send a list of food so they can forward to the other teams. Once we tie those areas down, I think we will on the way."
The Bahamas will play host to Barbados, Saint-Martin and Nicaragua. The men's squad won the first round, held in Curacao in December. Playing in that first round were Jamaica, Martinique and host country Curacao. In July of last year, the men's squad captured the CAZOVA Championships. Both titles were the first in the history for the men's program.
"This is the first time we are hosting a world championships qualifier, so this an inaugural time for us," said Smith. "We are looking to host more tournaments, but the gym has to be up to international standards. We were approached about hosting the Junior World Championships, but we can't. I don't think we are ready for that as yet for a lot of reasons, one being the gym must be able to seat about 5,000 to 10,000 minium seating. The gymnasium needs to have practice courts, along with the courts you will be playing on. So we can't bid for things like that as yet. We are hoping we can in the not too distant future. Tournaments like this will be good for The Bahamas, a good investment."
Smith said the country will now get to see how far the program has come, and share some of the moments through plays when the tournament is held here. The team will welcome a new trainer in March to help with preparation.
A Bahamian outsourcing company has taken root in China in an effort to provide a one-stop shop for local businesses seeking inexpensive Asian goods.
Orico Bahamas Limited, featuring a number of Bahamians fluent in Mandarin, is already working with retail powerhouses such as Kelly's, Phil's Food Services Limited and Solomon's, according to one of its co-founders.
Nolan Carey, the CEO of Door 2 Door Imports, is now consolidating all of his business in the U.S. and Latin America to China.
The new company, with offices both domestically and abroad, works with factories in China, scouts the goods, and provides full shipping and customs solutions for its clients. The all-Bahamian venture, Carey said, is a testament to the surging business relationship between The Bahamas and the Asian superpower.
"We have six Bahamians in China right now that speak Mandarin," Carey told Guardian Business. "It is beyond a million-dollar idea."
His Bahamian counterparts throughout China are intended to not only source the goods requested by retailers, but also serve as ambassadors that greet guests arriving in the country. Also linked with Orico is a full tour company experience, whereby it arranges trips for executives or everyday Bahamians to visit the surging nation.
Orico has a registered company in Hong Kong called Shigi Industries, Carey noted.
He said Door 2 Door Imports has helped create synergies within the new company and get it off the ground much quicker.
"We have grown the confidence of clients who know what Door 2 Door has already accomplished," he explained. "It's a one-stop shop. We can take you to China, put you in a hotel, you're greeted by Bahamians. We can offer full customs service and brokerage and deliver the goods to your door."
Those goods, according to Carey, are often 200 percent cheaper than the equivalent in the U.S.
For example, he said one of the company's first clients is now in the process of shipping bicycles.
"You would find the same product in Walmart for $85. We are getting the product at $18 in China. You must pay shipping costs and tariffs, of course, but you would pay that from the U.S. as well. At the end of the day, it ends up being much cheaper," according to Carey.
Orico is now in the process of accepting orders for the Christmas season. While the company is already dealing with larger retailers, Carey said dozens of "mom and pop" stores are also coming on board.
A 20-foot container can be divided between five clients, he explained, to accommodate smaller needs and more modest budgets.
Clarence Albury, head of sales for Orico, is also a university graduate who studied in China. The bahamian citizen, like many of his colleagues, speaks fluent Mandarin. He believes greater business participation with China will ultimately empower local business.
"We are in contact with a lot of factories in China and these are the guys we send out to look at pricing and purchasing," Albury told Guardian Business. "We have confirmed clients who will be traveling to China next week, visiting a few factories, and taking advantage of our travel tours."
A major inspiration for the company has indeed been the growing relationship between China and The Bahamas.
Baha Mar, the $3.5 billion project on Cable Beach, is being funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation. Chinese contractors have secured other work in the capital, including the Airport Gateway project.
State-owned Export-Import Bank of China is also financing a new port and bridge in Abaco at a cost of $41 million.
On a regional scale, the Asian superpower has offered $1 billion in preferential loans last year to support economic development in Caribbean countries.
"I know for a fact that the relationship with China is strong. We have nowhere to go but up," Albury said.
Plans to construct a $102.3 million seawater district cooling (SDC) system at Baha Mar have been momentarily derailed due to failed revisions to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) plan, Guardian Business has learned.
According to multiple well-placed sources, the bone of contention lies with alterations to Cable Beach's ecosystem, more specifically the area around Goodman's Bay.
Machinery and equipment running both underwater and on the surface have sparked concerns on the impact to the natural environment. Likewise, local residents and those that frequent Goodman's Bay have grown increasingly outspoken on the project.
The SDC plant, projected to reduce the $2.6 billion mega resort's electricity demand by up to 90 percent, is being spearheaded by Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC). The U.S. company has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to deliver two renewable energy plants to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
Recent events, however, have cast doubt on OTEC's ambitions in The Bahamas.
"I think it has to do with their ability to get approvals and meeting conditions that would be acceptable to the EIA," said one well-placed source. "While they have made revisions to it, they have not informed the authorities of that revision in writing."
The threat to the $102.3 million plant comes shortly after a document surfaced at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which revealed OTEC rejected a number of alternatives to the design.
The renewable energy company is seeking up to $40.9 million from the IDB for the project.
One of the many areas of concern, environmentally speaking, is certainly Goodman's Bay.
The report notes that the pipeline would have to traverse six national and international telecommunication cables beneath the bay. Representing a significant link for the country to the rest of the world, trenching and installing the OTEC piping "would involve an undesired level of difficulty and risk of damage to the cables".
The report outlined a number of alternative routes and proposals for the pipping leading to and from the proposed SDC plant. One alternative is to construct landing sites east of the Baha Mar resort at Arawak Cay. While there are many benefits identified, multiple utilities located along West Bay Street and "major interference with traffic" help caused this idea to be thrown out. Baha Mar even considered shifting the route of the golf course to accommodate the plant.
Robert Sands, vice president of external and government affairs, said the OTEC project was not factored into the original business plan of Baha Mar. As such, the developers do not expect any fallout should the endeavor be officially squashed.
"It was purely based on cost savings, but for us and BEC. The original plan was already based on conventional air conditioning," he added.
Executives at OTEC did not respond to requests for comment.
There has been much discussion this week over an upswing of housebreakings, burglaries and rapes in parts of New Providence. Police have taken at least three people in to custody in connection with the problem, but it is unclear if these individuals are involved and it is also unclear how many people are committing the crimes.
Housebreaking has been a problem in The Bahamas for several years - particularly in New Providence. According to police statistics, there were 3,237 housebreakings in 2011, up three percent from the 3,141 cases of housebreaking in 2010. The 2010 figure, however, was 17.5 percent higher than the 2,673 housebreakings recorded in 2009.
Housebreaking is a serious problem that we have not been able to address. The crime, and its nighttime version burglary, is often accompanied by sexual assaults against women. These assaults are dastardly acts, with females at times being raped in front of other relatives and even their children.
The public feels particularly affected by and invested in these types of crimes. Women are afraid for their safety and men are afraid for the safety of their wives, sisters, daughters and friends.
Police have a policy of rarely mentioning rapes and sexual assaults to the media in their public crime reports. The argument is that they do not want to identity victims by naming the areas where the incidents occurred. If people know a rape happened last night on Malcolm Road, then everyone in the neighborhood who saw the police at a particular residence would know a woman who resides there was raped, so the argument goes.
Yes, police do have a responsibility to protect the identities of victims of sexual assault. However, they also have a responsibility to prevent other sexual assaults from happening by warning the public of disturbing trends when they begin. The current problem with break-ins and sexual assaults was only revealed this week because a reporter pressed a senior police officer on the issue.
Simply put, police should issue general area warnings about sexual assaults and break-ins. Rather than saying three rapes occurred on Skyline Drive, police could say that a problem with rapes has emerged in western New Providence, or in the Cable Beach area, giving those who live there the opportunity to change their habits and be more cautious.
Police always ask for the help of the public in solving crime. We the public now ask police to provide us with the necessary information so that we can protect ourselves.
Police must remember that the information held by the force is held on our behalf. It is not just special power or knowledge for police and senior government officials. Of course, police cannot release every detail of information the force has for obvious reasons. But a general notice to women about sexual assaults when the problem begins certainly should not be too much to ask.
Jazz music will never sound the same again after listening to the diverse style and expertise of the amazing line-up that has been set for the musical spectacular that will be the Ralph Munnings Jazz Band Concert.
Ronnie Butler, Duke Errol Strachan, Freddie Munnings, Naomi Taylor, Osano Neely and Anushka Wright headline the Saturday, June 23 event at Old Fort Bay Clubhouse which will be the talk of the town, as it celebrates jazz saxophone legend Ralph Munnings. The evening kicks off at 7 p.m.
Adding even more flavor to this jazzy affair, the legend himself -- Ralph Munnings will perform.
"This is going to be a great occasion. I have always been passionate about my work and I intend to bring that same love and talent I've always displayed to this upcoming event," said Munnings.
"This event will be really special to me, not only because I'm being honored which is an amazing thing to me, but also because I will be playing in concert with some old friends from when I first started as well as meeting up with some new musicians who I've had different opportunities to play with."
He said the concert will be a treat for jazz enthusiasts and even those who will listen to the music for the first time.
"It will truly be an evening of entertainment, relaxation and sensation. The level of talent that will be displayed throughout the event is not something one sees everyday and the fusion of more modern jazz fusions should be an exciting experience," he said.
Concert organizer, Naomi Taylor, believes the evening will be a sensational, classy and elegant way to spend a Saturday evening.
"It will be a black tie affair with wonderful hors d'oeuvres, beautiful music and singing, great company and a great environment," she said. "Not to mention honoring Ralph Munnings in this way is something special. He has really done a lot to influence the current generation of musicians and we should honor him for what he has done. It's time to recognize the men and women who have paved the way for us in this industry and give them their accolades while they are alive."
The fusion of youth and maturity, old-school jazz to modern mixtures will add an extra pop of character and intrigue to the event according to Taylor. As one of the featured vocalists she said she feels honored to be a part of the melting pot of talent that will be performing on Saturday night.
"You can expect a wide array of talent and style with the performers all evening long. It has been well organized and the execution will be flawless. You can expect to hear different jazz and music styles from Latin jazz, classic jazz, blues and even famous Bahamian ballads. This will be dynamic and beautiful. You do not want to miss out on this event."
Adding more vibrant flavor to the show will be musicians like pianist Clinton Crawford, bassist Adrian D'Aguilar, drummer Neil Symonette, alto saxophonist Tino Richardson, tenor saxophonist Dion Turnquest, trombonist Teddy Russell, trumpeter Lamont Gibson, and percussionists Peanuts Taylor and Kevin Dean.
Proceeds from the night that is expected to be the talk of the town will go to the Ralph Munnings Musicians Mentoring Fund which was recently established to encourage upcoming musicians. With the new program Munnings will be coming to New Providence to do monthly master classes in woodwind instruments for interested youngsters.
The classes are a way for Munnings who began his career in music in the 1950s and has played with the likes of Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte and Ben E. King to give back, and train the next generation.
"It would be a crime to let musicians like Munnings die out and the younger generations not benefit," said Taylor.
Tickets for the jazz concert can be purchased at Custom Computers locations in the Cable Beach Plaza and Harbour Bay Shopping Centre.
When: Saturday, June 23
Where: Old Fort Bay Clubhouse
Time: 7 p.m. for cocktail 8 p.m.
Duke Errol Strachan
The core band
Clinton Crawford - pianist and musical director
Adrian D'Aguilar - bass
Neil Symonette - drums
Tino Richardson - alto sax
Dion Turnquest - tenor sax
Teddy Russell - trombone
Lamont Gibson - trumpet
Peanuts Taylor - percussion
Kevin Dean - percussion
The Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino will be closed beginning in September due to low occupancy levels.
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, announced that the resort usually experiences significant losses during September and October.
"Occupancy levels at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino have been pretty challenged most of the time, because of the major construction and demolition of the two towers taking place. It's also the slowest time of the year," according to Sands.
He confirmed that this is third time that the resort has undergone a temporary closure and the second time it is offering employees the option of taking an "early retirement and voluntary separation plan". The resort closed its doors temporarily both in 2009 for eight weeks and for six weeks in 2010. The closures impacted more than 1,000 employees.
Now it is being closed for five weeks.
"This is not the first time that this is happening. This is in fact the third time that we are doing this. We have done it once before when the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort was closing," Sands explained.
According to a statement from Baha Mar, all full-time staff members have been offered a one-time, completely voluntary opportunity to end their employment with the establishment and receive an attractive compensation package based on their position and length of employment.
"Actual early retirement and separation dates will vary based on the employee and his or her role and function. The plan is non-discriminatory as to age, gender, position and length of employment, and Cable Beach Resorts maintains the right to accept or reject any individual application to participate," it stated.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told Guardian Business that he is hoping this won't happen again.
"We do understand the difficulty that the hotel faces, given the fact that you have construction going on just near the towers of the Wyndham. Once it's beyond the stage that it is at now in another three, four months, we believe that we will be in better shape," he shared. "Early next year, we begin the year with several major conferences that will be held at that hotel. We are hoping that they move with haste. The decision made by the company will also allow for employees to consider the future by accepting the package. It's an internal decision that can be made by the employees or they can remain at the property. We are hoping that this five-week closure goes by very quickly and we are hoping that construction remains on schedule."
The temporary closure takes effect from September 4 to October 17. Those employees interested in accepting the early retirement and voluntary separation plan will have a four-week window in which to accept it.
Sands said once the resort is re-opened, an assessment will be made as to how much was saved during the temporary closure.
While the government is not currently considering whether to change the law that prohibits Bahamians from gambling in local casinos, a senior official at Atlantis Resort said the property would welcome the move if it ever happened.
"Obviously, we will conduct our operations according to the laws of the country that we're in," said George Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas.
"We'd be delighted if there was a method to allow locals to participate in games of chance in the casinos, but realize that there are reasons why the rules are in place today.
"So we will wait and see what shows up in a national referendum and what the public debate leads to in the future."
Public debate on gambling heightened in recent weeks after Prime Minister Perry Christie said he intends to call the referendum before the end of the year.
But Christie reiterated last week that casino gambling for Bahamians in The Bahamas is not up for discussion.
"The referendum is about whether or not we have a national lottery, whether or not we legalize the web shop gambling, full stop. It's not about whether Bahamians gamble in casinos," Christie said.
Despite his comment, there continues to be widespread discussion about whether casino gambling should also be up for consideration.
Markantonis, who was contacted by The Nassau Guardian for comment, was asked whether it would be good for Kerzner's business if the restrictions were lifted.
"I think it would be good business for Kerzner, but I also think it is one more amenity for everyone who lives in The Bahamas, one more entertainment option," he said.
"Now you have to balance that with the fact that if it were allowed, the guidelines would have to make sure that they were responsible and that people didn't go and injure their personal incomes.
"So, as I said, we respect what the laws of the country are. We would like to see it spread out a bit more as it's done in other nations and we'll see how it all shakes out."
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, told The Nassau Guardian he is an advocate of "limited and not complete relaxation" of regulations prohibiting locals from gambling in casinos.
"I believe that gaming regulations as written today do not put The Bahamas in a very competitive position and require a major overhaul if we are to level the playing field, certainly in The Bahamas, and be competitive with other jurisdictions that exist... in North American and Europe and Asia," he said.
"I am also an advocate for the consideration and review of limited relaxations of Bahamians gambling in casinos."
In 2009, the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) presented a list of recommendations to the government to ease stringent requirements on gaming.
The proposal, however, did not call for the government to make it legal for Bahamians to gamble in local casinos.
The association asked the government to widen the net of people who can gamble legally, including permanent residents and people on short-term work permits.
At the time, Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian told The Nassau Guardian that Baha Mar backed the proposal.
"It happens everywhere in The Bahamas," Izmirlian said, referring to gambling. "You might as well legalize it and let the government benefit from those tax revenues."
Asked whether he would welcome Bahamians gambling in his casino, Izmirlian said at the time that he already welcomes Bahamians everywhere on the properties at Cable Beach.
"One thing that we've done, not just in the design of Baha Mar, but in the hotels today, is we've tried to embrace the community," he said.
"I feel that some of the other resorts have turned their backs a little bit on Bahamians and some didn't even use the word Bahamas in their advertising. We're different from that; not only did we embrace the design and culture, but we want Bahamians to come into our resort."
In that 2009 interview, Izmirlian also said there are very few jurisdictions that don't welcome locals in casinos.
He added that gaming in The Bahamas was being hurt by outdated laws that fail to make the jurisdiction competitive.
"Our gaming laws in The Bahamas are just not competitive versus other jurisdictions in the U.S. and other places in the world, and we really need urgently to address our gaming regulations here in The Bahamas," he said.
"It's a detailed list of recommendations which we believe should be implemented as soon as possible. We need to be competitive on the types of games we can offer [and] how quickly we can implement new games as they become available on the market. And we also need to realize that there are certain residents here, whether it's permanent residents or others, who should be allowed to gamble."
Today, hoteliers still make similar statements about the need for the industry to be more competitive.
Hoteliers have long sought more competitive gaming sector
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie told Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department that they must express their views on how the Ministries and Departments must be directed.He was speaking at the Ministry of Finance Budget 2012/13 Budget Symposium at the Sheraton Cable Beach, Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
The Prime Minister said, "If when we make the final judgment, it flies in the face of your opinion, you would have done your job, because you have too much invested in you, to conform to what you think is politically right. "You are no good to me, none, if you just listen to what I say." He said when a new Government administration comes into power, offices are fixed up for Ministers and they also receive new vehicles, while in sharp contrast the Simpson Penn Centre For Boys and the Willie Mae Pratt Centre For Girls are in desperate need of repairs.
"These contradictions must be challenged by you," the Prime Minister said. "You have an obligation to recognise what is happening in our country, and when the systems that we have, do not allow that to happen, we know they are deficient. Therefore, make recommendations for them to change." He told the senior government officials that they represent an "incredible assembly of brainpower" that must be used for the maximum benefit of the country.
Beijing Construction America is considering an equity position in the $200 million World Mart, pointing out that Baha Mar is made up of essentially the same "ingredients".
Zac Henson, the president of Beijing Construction America, drew strong parallels between himself and Tiger Wu, the vice president of China Construction America and a top executive behind Baha Mar.
The latter is now full steam ahead on the $2.6 billion resort rising on Cable Beach.
"It is undetermined whether we would take an equity position, but as with many projects, we build and finance," he explained. "We are a state-owned enterprise, we are owned by the government; the banks are owned by the government. Baha Mar is run by China State Construction, which is one of our counterpart companies. We essentially do the same thing, we have the same ingredients and we're owned by the same people as they are."
Henson and other top executives of Beijing Construction America were in Freeport last week finalizing some of the particulars behind the 1.1 million square-foot facility.
He was joined by influential Chinese investors and Bahamian executives.
World Mart is designed to provide merchants from China and around the world with an international platform to promote, sell and distribute mass quantities of goods to corporations throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
While Beijing Construction is under a similar umbrella to its counterpart at Baha Mar, Henson told Guardian Business there are a few significant differences.
Unlike China State Construction, which tends to import labor, Beijing Construction will employ up to 1,200 Bahamians for the high-profile project.
World Mart executives hope to start construction by early next year.
"As you can see, our counterparts at China State deploy Chinese workers onto the island. We don't do that," he said. "At Beijing, we sub-contract work. And so, the workers and the work community will come from the sub-contract community. Where they get their works is up to them."
The statement could indeed mean a new beginning for Grand Bahama and provide a remarkable solution to the island's 21 percent unemployment rate.
Challenges, however, remain before shovels can be stuck in the ground.
Henson said Beijing Construction America is looking forward to hearing more details from the government and other local officials on exactly what international merchants can expect if they set up shop in World Mart.
The deal is beyond "dollars and cents", and foreign investors will want to perfectly understand the value of investing in The Bahamas.
"The biggest resource they have here is 'Freeport'," he added. "Those words. Free port. Free trade. Exchange. Business. Culture. You can wordsmith it any way you want, but that is the core that should be on the tip of everyone's tongue. You have something to do with trade? Come give me a hug."
Fundamental to making the World Mart concept work, however, is being sensitive to the guest experience. He told Guardian Business that the business traveler is quite different than the typical tourist, particularly a client that is coming from 9,000 miles away. He called it a challenge, but also an opportunity.
Air travel to The Bahamas is another challenge to overcome and consider.
While Nassau has gained all of the attention, Henson felt Freeport would need to generate more direct flights and attract greater attention to make the ease of travel, and business, easier.
Comprising 1,600 stalls for merchants, World Mart, as the name suggests, would not simply be populated by Chinese. In fact, executives revealed a "household name" from Korea has already made a commitment to the project.
Securing key investors in different corners of the world is considered essential for the concept to snowball.
World Mart will be divided into five districts geared towards specific areas of trade and distribution: Fashion Boulevard, Technology Way, Home Goods Avenue, Manufacturing Place and Season Street.
It is expected to include a hotel, restaurants and other amenities, and ultimately employ up to 3,000 Bahamians.
Rosander Clarke spends almost every hour of her life in a bed in a tiny room of her small Nassau Street home.
She needs help just to sit up and wishes she could do the things normal 37-year-old women do.
Holding her head in her hands as she wept, she said she leaves the house about once every three months and can barely afford the $70 she has to pay someone to transport her to and from Princess Margaret Hospital.
Clarke was diagnosed several years ago with lupus, a disease that affects the immune system. She said she has also been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which has left her left foot permanently twisted and her fingers disfigured.
She said she has dealt with the ailments for the past six years. When she does get out, she uses an old wheel chair her brother brought second hand and had repaired.
Clarke shares her small bed with her 18-year-old daughter. The only other bed in the house is even smaller. It is the first thing anyone sees when they walk through the door to enter the home. It's where Clarke's mother sleeps.
There's not much else that makes up the home -- a tiny kitchen and a small desk are the only other things visible.
Although her 59-year-old mother has a job as a janitress, Clarke said they barely survive. Clarke said her daughter never finished school because she dropped out to take care of her.
The young woman (Clarke's daughter) stared into the distance as she told The Nassau Guardian she gave up on her dreams a long time ago.
"If feel like I robbed my child of an education," said Clarke as she wept.
She said Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell visited her recently.
As part of the Urban Renewal Programme, Bell has been helping to identify structures in inner city communities to repair or tear down.
Clarke said she is unsure what help the family may get from the government or anyone else.
In contributing to the budget debate last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said a portion of the $15 million specially set aside in the new budget will be used to assist the neediest Bahamians.
He advised that the relevant ministers will be involved in helping identify these people.
When contacted by The Nassau Guardian yesterday, Bell said he has been back to the home since The Guardian's visit on Friday and the government will see what it can do to help the women.
Bell said he is looking into getting the house repaired, but if a contractor determines it is too far gone for repairs he would have a proposal drawn up and submitted to the Ministry of Housing to determine whether any other assistance can be provided.
Madline Demeritte, Clarke's mother, said any assistance would be welcomed.
"There's nothing I can do. I'm trying, I'm struggling, I'm dong my best," said Demeritte, her voice cracking.
"I pray God that it will be a better life for us because she was sick so long. There's nothing I can do but keep praying to God that she will get well. I have to do everything for her. I have to go every where to get everything for her."
Lying in her small bed, Clarke -- who said she gained most of her weight from medication -- told The Nassau Guardian there is much she wishes she could do and see, like the simple things many people take for granted.
She said she has not yet seen the new Cable Beach strip but she heard it's amazing.
While returning from a visit to the doctor, she said she recently saw the new library of The College of The Bahamas -- a stone's throw away from where she lives -- and thought it was "beautiful".
"If I could go back and turn the hands of time, as they say, I would try to make everything right," Clarke said.