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ABACO -- More than 200 local Abaco school children received bags, books and other supplies to prepare them for heading back to school through a joint collaboration between government and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
The students were treated to a day of food and beverages as they lined up to get their 2014/2015 school supplies. It was a move that was welcome by both the parents and the children.
"Thank you for your generous donation before the children return to school," said resident Carolee Russell on behalf of the local population. "Thanks for the contributions in Cooper's town. The town has not changed for many years; a lot of people have to work away from home, but you coming to our town has injected new vitality.
"I believe Cooper's town has a rich future because of the new port."
Through the event and interaction with the local residents, CHEC further strengthened its relationship with the community. Regional Project Manager Chang Qijun said CHEC was committed to building the North Abaco Port Project in a manner that brought about the maximum amount of benefits for the local people.
"We believe that by the completion of the North Abaco Port, CHEC will not only improve local traffic conditions, but also provide work for more people while promoting local economic development," he said. "We are also committed to China Harbour carrying out duties that enhance public welfare and improve the lives of local people by making whatever contribution we need to. We will actively fulfill the company's corporate social responsibility."
The back-to-school event lasted for four hours, ending with all of the participants taking photos, eating and playing together in the final hours leading up to the beginning of the school year.
CHEC is a full-service provider in large-scale construction business for more than 30 years. The leading engineering company specializes in the areas of marine engineering, dredging, land reclamation, and in the construction of roads, bridges, airports and railways. As such, the company has received more than 160 awards for a number of projects including the design and construction of two of the three longest sea-crossing bridges in the world.
The Exigency Order signed by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham this week will have far reaching affects on ravaged businesses throughout the Family Islands, said Zhivargo Laing, Minister of State for Finance.
"This will absolutely help commerce," he told The Guardian Business.
"The application form is structured for businesses to be able to apply. I can't say what's going to happen in terms of the number of claims. What is important is it's a means for businesses to get back on their feet.
The Tariff Act, signed by Ingraham on Tuesday, declares an urgent need for specific goods to be given an exemption from duty. Anyone who suffered "hardship or less as a result of Hurricane Irene" are encouraged to apply for the exemption, the Act stated.
These goods include building materials, electrical fixtures, plumbing materials, furniture and appliances.
There is "no limit" to the number of claims that can be made, Laing said.
For the restaurants, shops, hotels and resorts on the Family Islands, the elimination of duties in these products will result in significant savings. On Cat Island, The Guardian Business reported widespread destruction to the local economy, and similar hardship has been felt on other Family Islands.
Evelyn Burrows, the owner of Periwinkles, lost all her clothing merchandise in the storm.
The bar and restaurant attached to the store was also heavily damaged. Storm shutters were ripped off the walls, part of the roof caved in and the rooms were flooded from ocean surges.
"I lost everything in the shop, from clothes to cosmetics," she said. "The damage is bad, but material things can be replaced over time."
According to Winston Rolle, chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, this move by the government is a very constructive step forward.
"I think it's the right thing to do - those persons from a business perspective need to get back online as quickly as possible," he said.
"Elimination of import duties on those products will be a significant help to get them mobilized."
However, he was surprised when told Eleuthera isn't included in the list of islands permitted to file claims.
"It's based on the level of damage," he said. "Nassau wasn't affected that badly. While there is work that needs to be done, the damage wasn't of a magnitude."
"I'm surprised though about Eleuthera- because they got it quite bad as well."
Rolle said it's too early to determine how many businesses could make claims and how much they might save from the new measures. But judging by the insurance claims on the horizon, the Tariff Act could save entrepreneurs millions throughout the country.
"We're talking about a lot of money," he added.
In the Tariff Act, sections of the report detail the need for supplies in the farming and fishing industry, all of which are included in the exemptions.
Galvanized sheeting and other materials used in the construction of fishing habitats, fishing boats, nursery stock for the reestablishment of fruit orchards and irrigation systems and supplies for poultry houses are just a few of the specific items mentioned.
Long Cay, Acklins, Cat Island, San Salvador, Inagua, Rum Cay, Mayaguana and Ragged Island are listed in the Tariff Act.
"Some islands would have been hit harder," Laing pointed out.
"Their businesses would be more affected - Acklins and Cat island were the more challenged ones, so (we) can expect more applications from there, perhaps."
Rolle said he's uncertain which islands will make the most claims, mostly because communications continue to be spotty in those areas with power and communications still limping.
As these communities try and get their infrastructure back, Rolle believes, without a consistent power source, businesses throughout the country will need help.
"It really has affected everyone," he said.
"Without electricity and phones, nobody can operate in the usual manner."
By ALISON LOWE
With the Central Bank of the Bahamas describing activity in the construction sector as "anemic" and "decelerating", Bahamian building supply stores yesterday reported flat or declining sales, with one supplier revealing he may temporarily close his doors next year until conditions improve.
The major supplier,who did not wish to be named, said he has had to let go dozens of employees, leaving only a "skeleton crew" of workers since last year. He has determined that within the next month he will have to decide whether closure next year will be necessary to keep the business alive in the long run.
Another major ...
A multi-million-dollar fishing lodge now under construction in Abaco plans to attract "the best of the best" when it comes to tourism, while providing the heart of a development that could change the island's economy.
Through a powerful joint venture, The Black Fly Fishing Lodge in the Schooner Bay development is trying to catch the big fish.
"Fly fishing clientele are top of the food chain when it comes to tourism in this country," said Clint Kemp, one of the key investors behind the project.
"Not only are they high net worth, but they tend to come in private aircrafts and are excellent repeat visitors. They aren't just coming for one week. They bring their friends and family and their presence often leads to further investment."
The lodge, slated for completion in 2013, will feature eight large rooms, a restaurant, bar and supplies store. A new fleet of boats will also be offered, giving guests access to salt-water fly fishing and deep water fishing.
Coming in at $1,000 per night for the full experience, the boutique lodge is meant to cater to exclusive guests which are often synonymous with the sport.
Meanwhile, Black Fly has also partnered with Nervous Waters, one of the most recognizable names in fly fishing, which operates 14 establishments all over the world.
Kemp told Guardian Business that Nervous Waters has bought a stake in the lodge and now acts as a shareholder.
"They bought a substantial stake in the company," he explained.
"That gives us the good housing seal of approval."
Kemp said the lodge will also be open to the general public, although certain areas are meant for guests only, such as the cigar smoking room on the top floor.
Kemp estimated the initial cost of the project to be between $4 million and $5 million.
But beyond the exclusivity of one lodge, Orjan Lindroth the president of the development company behind Schooner Bay, added that this venture serves as a centerpiece for what should one day become a flourishing harbor town.
"The lodge sits at the head," he told Guardian Business.
"It's very important architecturally and creates that feel. It will become a meeting place for friends and family."
Lindroth explained the idea behind the property is to create a "robust business model" that can cater to not just the tourists but the community as well.
As work on the lodge kicks into gear, Schooner Bay continues to rise up around it.
Lindroth said five houses are now complete, and another 10 are expected to be done in the late winter or early spring. Five other separate dwellings are slated to begin construction around Christmas.
A six-unit condominium unit, consisting of traditional buildings with both residential and commercial units, is breaking ground in February 2012, he added.
Several of these units have been sold already, with prices ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
Lindroth said the pricing is meant to reflect the wide cross-section residents Schooner Bay wishes to attract.
The harbor opened in June, with the lodge resting at its mouth.
The name for the lodge, Lindroth added, came from Vaughn Cochran, the artist and owner of Black Fly Outfitters, which sells world-famous merchandise bearing his logo.
Cochran is also a shareholder in the new lodge.
Kemp called Cochran's involvement and the Black Fly name a "lifestyle statement" lending further credibility to the project.
He said no other lodge like this exists in The Bahamas. What makes the venture particularly unique, he felt, was the fact the lodge is located in a community.
"This is the only one that incorporates itself into the community," he said.
"To have a fishing lodge in a community where they can interact with people is important. It means a higher, more textured experience. As it becomes a living town, our guests will want to be a part of that."
* Teams up with son to open building supplies business from firm's former Home Centre premises, which is owned by Freeport
Concrete chair Babak
* Set to employ 12-14
persons and sell from 25,00 square foot space alongside Butler's Food World
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Former Freeport Concrete chief executive Raymond Simpson and his son are going back into business in the Home Centre building that the former BISX-listed company vacated weeks ago, aiming to initially employ 12-14 persons at a firm that while supply similar products - building and home supplies - from 25,000 square feet of space.
Mr Simpson and his son, also called Raymond, said they were putt ...
The short answer: nothing. There's nothing wrong with him. An interesting thing happened in Jamaica recently. Political junkies didn't miss it, I'm sure. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, 63 years old, stepped down and his Jamaica Labour Party has selected 39-year-old Andrew Holness, the minister of education, to be their leader and consequently, prime minister.
Bahamian workers and businesses continue to benefit from the rise of Baha Mar, with at least 200 still on-site working hand-in-hand with Chinese counterparts.
China Construction America, the firm spearheading construction of the $2.6 billion resort, has spent millions purchasing materials from in and around the country to help bring the project to fruition.
"We actually procured quite a lot of materials locally," said Tiger Wu, vice president of China Construction America. "Much of the cement came from here. They have a quarry in Grand Bahama we used for other materials. I think the total value will be in the millions of dollars."
That said, Wu pointed out that limited local supplies and logistics have proven to be a major challenge thus far.
The company has also acquired a great deal of equipment and material from both the U.S. and China, which will continue to trickle in until the resort is completed in December 2014.
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administrative and external affairs at Baha Mar, estimated there are close to 300 Chinese working full-time on the actual construction site, and 200 Bahamians.
"Ground works, hauling, support work, installation ... Bahamians have remained a fixture in terms of labor," Sands told Guardian Business.
The Baha Mar executive also noted there are a variety of indirect jobs associated with the resort.
"The trucking that is constantly coming, which is supported by shipping and logistics, and the clearing that takes place. All of this adds up to many local companies supporting us," he added.
The heavy importation of goods is well timed.
APD Limited, the company responsible for the $82 million Nassau Container Port on Arawak Cay, seeks to centralize all imports and exports to New Providence within the coming months.
More than 12,000 everyday Bahamians became shareholders in the company when APD Limited put forward its initial public offering last month.
However, Sands did not anticipate a major boom for shareholders despite the large importation of goods, principally because Baha Mar benefits from the Hotel Encouragement Act.
"There are concessions on duties and building supplies," he explained. "But they will have to be moved and transported. The new port will mean tremendous convenience as well."
Sands revealed that Baha Mar is hoping to establish its own bonded customs area for the clearance of goods so they can be brought directly to the site.
Wu told Guardian Business that the project will still contribute to revenue at the port.
"For example, when bringing in things from the U.S., we are still paying the port for handling fees to get it on the truck. So there are some expenses for us," he said.
The China Construction America chief, who has worked in Canada, the U.S. and Africa, noted that he is accustomed to working overseas and managing different cultures.
He expressed confidence that Bahamians and the Chinese will rise to the occasion, work cooperatively and learn from each other as Baha Mar becomes a reality.
"We all came here for the same reason," he added. "Everyone has been taught that way and it is going to be a team effort to get it all done. Everyone has that kind of mind-set. The only way we can succeed is to work together."
Since the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four individuals with close connections who arrived back to the U.S. from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities.
I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports, chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores.
The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon U.S. and other countries well-traveled by Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone on the region. The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the U.S. if they cut travel, and begin to set high alerts and screening of passengers from the region?
The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, after arriving in the U.S., has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries. Although many believed Thomas Duncan's death while in U.S. care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered. One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere - for this region, it is all economics.
Here is why: in most of the region, the economic engine is tourism, and if what has taken place in Liberia is any indication, the fallout could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 which has left many still sneezing. I begin to wonder if the reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up is to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. The appropriate business model during a turbulent time is not only to be prepared, but also willing to inform about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.
This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports; that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, it could be the beginning of a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters, there lies an undercurrent that can overflow the banks at anytime, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.
Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned because of the appearance of what was believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that a few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources, it is troubling.
In today's society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians' re-elections, it is hard to fathom that lack of resources and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elected officials, medical personnel and CARICOM step up to educate people and seek help through awareness, because potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous than the actual virus, can happen here too.
These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for a piece of the visitors' pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes a "them and not us" mentality.
This virus is not just an island thing, and nor is it found only in third world countries. One of my less-informed friends stated that he is going to stop eating chicken and stop going to places where lots of chicken is found.
Education is key: no, you cannot get it from eating chicken or visiting places where chicken is in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in the Makonde language, roughly meaning "that which bends up," reflecting the physical contortions of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas territories of France like Guadeloupe and Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
An estimated 3.6 billion people in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen on Indian Ocean islands, in India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.
The National Institute of Health, the World Health Organization, public health departments and infectious disease authorities have noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.
The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and a rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days after been bitten, the symptoms appear.
The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin. Although there have been reported deaths, the numbers are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.
These regions have to debunk the notion that only certain medicines can cure this outbreak, while many studies have been reporting there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as wearing bite-proof long sleeves and trousers. More information has been published by many health organizations.
It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to reduce concerns.
Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coordinated effort. If there is one, please post.
Although some awareness has been registered, and governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified?
As the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place. The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, seek help and resources as needed and stop putting on a good face on such issues with a relaxed attitude. I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather this storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from this upcoming winter.
o Derrick Miller is a trained U.S. Federal law enforcement officer that has been in the criminal justice field for more than 14 years.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE COMMUNITY of James Cistern, Eleuthera has banded together to ensure a family of six has a place to sleep tonight after their home was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon.
After news spread through the settlement that 53-year-old Betty Blowes, her husband Livingston Rolle, and their children and grandchildren had lost their home -- residents pitched in to gather clothes, food and other supplies for their now displaced neighbours.
The fire was believed to have started in the kitchen of the 60ft x 30ft stucco building and quickly spread to the rest of the house burning it to the ground.
Angelo Bethel, a relative, ...
Tiger Wu doesn't mince words. As the Vice President of China Construction America Inc- a subsidiary of the largest construction company in China- his focus can be easily summarized: Dec. 31, 2014.
That's the day Baha Mar, the$2.6 billion colossal project in Nassau, is slated to open its doors.
But there is far more at stake than the promise of thousands of luxury hotel rooms, the 1,000 square-foot casino or the sprawling list of features and attractions. For China, Baha Mar-financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation-represents perhaps its most significant collaborative venture into the Western hemisphere.
If all goes well, the launch of Baha Mar could more accurately open the doors to the world.
"This project is essential to developing business in the Caribbean and into the U.S.,"Wu toldGuardian Business."It's only the beginning. This is part of our growth. We hope with successful completion, it will open up more opportunities in the area."
Indeed, as the face of the company in The Bahamas, a great political and economic responsibility rests with the Chinese executive's shoulders.
In a way, the revolution has already begun.
China Construction America has quietly won a series of major public works projects in the U.S., including the$91 million Metro-North Railroad station at Yankee Stadium, work on a ventilation system in Manhattan and, according to Wu, most recently a$10 million road works project in New York.
However, few projects, if any, rival the scale and glamor associated with Baha Mar.
The resort boasts world-class brands, including Rosewood, Mondrian and Grand Hyatt. It will also feature a John Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a conventional hall, wildlife reserve, 3,000-square-feet of beachfront and a casino hotel.
Meanwhile, in the boardroom, The Bahamas and China have forged a strong and growing economic alliance. Last month, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, on his way to the Third China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, signed another technical assistance agreement with The Bahamas, bringing the total up to$30 million.
The Airport Gateway Project and the National Stadium are two other major projects in Nassau being spearheaded by the Chinese.
"There has been a quiet and long-standing relationship with China,"said Robert Sands, Senior Vice president of Administrative and External Affairs at Baha Mar."Do not underestimate it. They have been here a long time-silent but effective."
Working closely with their quiet Chinese counterparts, Bahamians expect to be the beneficiaries of the rising economic giant through the creation of jobs, a new market for tourism and other major investment opportunities down the road.
Baha Mar, and The Bahamas at large, is"East meets West"in the truest sense of the word, Sands said, and a testing ground which shows the world that great things can be accomplished between two very different places.
Wu, for his part, said he is very conscious of the need to change certain stigmas or perceptions of China as it seeks its place near the top of the global order.
He called the relationship between China and The Bahamas"fascinating". "Here we are, working together, and we have very different cultures,"he said."In the end, we find things in common."
In the future, Wu envisions a variety of new projects in The Bahamas, the Caribbean and in North America. He pointed out the expansion of the Baha Mar brand could be a distinct possibility.
But first things first-soon, more than 10,000 containers of building supplies will begin their two-month voyage from China. Other materials will be coming from the U.S.
And on the other end, more than 8,000 Chinese workers will be filing in and out during the project and housed in a man camp, with construction reaching a feverish pitch around nine months from now.
Many local business are involved and thousands of Bahamians are also finding employment through the construction.
Working hand in hand, this original odd couple might be building more than a resort. "Who knows what happens after this,"Sands said.
"The synergy here goes beyond construction and financing. It's the beginning of a continuum."