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I have been disappointed but not surprised by the failure of Members Opposite to recognize that my Government has made considerable and measurable progress in making lemonade from the lemons which they left on the table when they were put out of office in 2007.
More than 50 percent of the thousands of construction workers in the country will be ill-prepared to capitalize on billions of dollars in opportunities if the Contractors Bill is not soon finalized.
President of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) Stephen Wrinkle asserts it's never been more important for the country to ensure this bill - proposed to license and regulate the industry - gets passed. His comments come as Baha Mar revs up construction and Atlantis gears up to go ahead with a multi-million project.
"Clearly we're not prepared to accommodate Baha Mar and Atlantis with the labor we currently have without additional training," he told Guardian Business on Monday. "Both are extremely prestigious for the industry and the country and it [speaks] to the [need for the] passage of the Contractors Bill and a training program, otherwise (we will) be faced with huge imports of skilled labor.
"We certainly need to get our own house in order to accommodate these giant projects."
Wrinkle said the Ministry of Works is presently finalizing the draft of the bill in order to submit it to Cabinet, after input by the BCA, insurance representatives and the Attorney General's Office.
As far as he sees it, there should be no further impediments to passing the bill. However, there has been one delay after the other in recent years as construction workers, in the meantime, grapple with myriad issues.
Wrinkle argues it is even more important for contractors in The Bahamas to be up to international standards with regards to licensing and surety obligations ahead of the economic turnaround projected. The bill proposes to do just that, as well as ensure that Bahamian contractors are considered first for projects.
The introduction of the bill coincides with one of the biggest economic slumps the nation has ever suffered through, stemming from a U.S. housing and credit crisis that has zapped consumer confidence and dried up prospects for commercial developments.
To date, a number of these projects have been delayed or canceled altogether, with restart dates only now being offered.
Just Monday, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham confirmed that the shelved Hurricane Hole project was now back on track at mega-resort Atlantis.
"Kerzner International expects to commence the development of its new timeshare resort and expansion of the Hurricane Hole marina this year," read Ingraham's speech on the Budget debate 2011/2012.
Wrinkle yesterday welcomed the news, saying it would speak to employment opportunities for construction workers.
"The BCA will continue to lobby on behalf of contractors for better positions," he said.
A $225,000 program signed into effect two months ago is expected to make the local construction industry more competitive internationally over the next 18 months. Called the "Strengthening of the Bahamas Contractors Association", the project is funded with a $150,000 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and $75,000 from the BCA.
In February of this year, the prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas addressed Parliament, and the Bahamian public for that matter, as he introduced the conversation regarding the possible change in our current tax structure. He introduced the discussion of value added tax or VAT.
Baha Mar, the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean, celebrated another milestone with the driving of its first of 5,700 pilings yesterday -- marking the beginning of construction for Baha Mar's core project.
A recent ceremony which highlighted the milestone included the embedding of a gold commemorative Baha Mar coin as a symbol of good luck for the $3.4 billion resort, gaming and entertainment complex slated to open in late 2014.† Officials from both the Ministry of Public Works and executives from Baha Mar were in attendance for the occasion.
"With the start of construction of our core project, Baha Mar continues on its planned timeline to deliver the largest resort development presently under construction in North America.† Today's ceremony is yet another milestone in the development of a project that is vital to the economy of The Bahamas, and which will go a long way to helping address the current economic challenges facing the country," said Don Robinson, president of Baha Mar.† "The realization of Baha Mar is due in large part to the confidence and strong support given by the Bahamian people and the Bahamian government."
The placement of the first piling of the core project is another significant accomplishment in the construction phase of Baha Mar.† In February Baha Mar held its ground-breaking ceremony, and in the intervening four months significant work has been done on both a new commercial village and substantial road works surrounding the resort, both of which are slated for completion by November.† In addition, Baha Mar has so far provided employment for almost 900 Bahamians, and has awarded over $90 million in contracts to Bahamian firms.
Representing an unprecedented alliance of powerhouses in the hospitality, financial and construction industries, Baha Mar is an example of a collection of diverse international partnerships.† In addition to securing a number of internationally-recognized brands as hotel partners, Baha Mar has appointed China State Construction and Engineering Corporation as its general contractor, and has also secured project financing from the Export Import Bank of China.
The ceremony was attended by Baha Mar executives, including, Don Robinson, president; Tom Dunlap, executive vice president of construction and development; Rick English, senior vice president sales and marketing, and Robert (Sandy) Sands, senior vice president of external affairs and government relations.† Also in attendance from the Ministry of Public Works were Craig Delancy, building control officer; and
Edwin Yuklow, senior structural engineer; and from China Construction America (The Bahamas) Tiger Wu, executive vice president.
For additional information, visit www.bahamar.com.
THE BAHAMIAN Contractors' Association (BCA) honoured several top industry players during its second annual Christmas and Awards Luncheon, held on December 15, 2011.
Awards were given to contractors in four major BCA membership categories, which include Building Contractor of the Year levels one through three, and General Contractor of the Year.
Building Contractor of the Year Level One, which recognises contractors certified to build single-storey structures up to 5,000 square feet, went to BJ's Cabinetry and Construction.
The Building Contractor of the Year Level Two, which recognises contractors certified to build two-storey structures of up to 10,000 square feet, was awarded to D.H. Buil ...
When hindsight is always 20/20, it implies a longing for things to have taken place differently. But this isn't the case with the rapid evolution of contemporary Bahamian art, which for the last 20 years has expanded the boundaries of how Bahamian artists define themselves and their practices.
Hoping to pay homage and expand this conversation, two contemporary abstract Bahamian artists, Toby Lunn and John Cox, reunite in the collaborative exhibition "20/20" opening next week at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts.
For the pair - who have known each other all of their lives - the exhibition is not so much a retrospective imbued with finality but rather another significant milestone in the conversation they've held with themselves and the wider art community since their first exhibition together in 1992 at the Bahamian Art Gallery in downtown Nassau.
At the time, with their understanding about art practices being shaped on a global scale through their studies abroad - Cox at Rhode Island School of Design and Lunn at Maryland Institute College of Art - the pair presented a wildly contemporary show ahead of their time.
With his use of unconventional materials in his sculptural constructions, Cox urged his viewers to take a second look at art in everyday life and landscapes - something that continues in the material choices as well as in the repetitive symbolism he uses in his work today.
"I remember being challenged by artists early on because people don't generally understand the visual construction of their surroundings, but that was something I was always in tune to - all of living is art and design, and I think that's where my fascination with materials and what I choose to use comes from," says Cox.
"I think RISD was the best thing for me at the time," he adds. "It was the right combination of being intimidated but also exhilarated. It boosted my confidence and taught me to see that there is no ceiling. All of the stuff from before, we questioned it, and we could do anything."
Meanwhile, Lunn dissolved the human figure into abstractions, passionately
applying paint and wood stains on canvas to explore the emotional undercurrents of everyday categorizations.
"A lot has changed in the way I look at art," says Lunn. "I guess it was an organic solution for me. I got sick and tired of race and gender in portraits, all of our labels, and abstractions delved into the inner workings, the psyche, in a way I thought portraiture couldn't - but of course that's incorrect, and now years later I'm revisiting the figure from a different perspective alongside my abstract work."
Besides displaying their current work 20 years later, the exhibition will also include first time collaborations between Cox and Lunn through diptychs and large canvases that evoke the spirit of the "Jammin" sessions of their mentors Jackson Burnside, Stan Burnside and John Beadle.
"With the collaborations, John and I have a synergy as friends, but there's also a tension, and we are trying to use both in our work," says Lunn. "It's a collective experience. When you look at the work, you will see John's hand and my hand. That's the idea - you can feel the two energies."
"Stan showed us that we could be successful and sophisticated artists, and Jackson encouraged people to stick to what they believe in," he adds. "I'm grateful for that influence, for the courage in if you have something to say, find a way to say it. Because what are you going to do, paint someone else's painting?"
"Art is about truly expressing yourself and this show is about being true - not necessarily to everything we have accomplished, but rather to our journey. This is a milestone I'm so excited to accomplish."
Yet the pair recognizes that "20/20" is bigger than the two of them. Even though the two have shared spaces in exhibitions many times since then - at Caripelago, the Pro Gallery, Popopstudios, in Miami Beach and in Harlem - the 1992 exhibition and the imminent "20/20" act as parenthesis around a time when Bahamian art has changed in significant ways. With the growth of several art spaces and a National Art Gallery, globalization and mass communication, and the opportunity for younger artists to practice abroad, the understanding of what constitutes "Bahamian art" has greatly expanded into exciting territory, and both artists have a hand in that development.
Indeed in many ways, Lunn and Cox were very ahead of their time, yet with the invaluable guidance from great Bahamian artists before them - Jackson and Stan Burnside, John Beadle, Brent Malone, Kendal Hanna - the two have continued to shape the cultural landscape through mentorship of up-and-coming artists producing stunning work in today's artistic climate.
"I feel very excited about what's going on and very honored to have been a part of that," says Cox. "I think when Toby and I did that show in 1992, that work in the context of that period of time was pretty out there, really on the periphery of what was going on. It was not a mainstream show. But I think if we were to do that show now, it would be quite mainstream."
"I'm excited to think that Toby was at The College of The Bahamas twenty-something years ago with Stan Burnside putting wind in his sails, and nowadays Toby in his own way and me in my own way with my reaching at The College of The Bahamas put wind in the sails of young artists who are just killing it today," he continues.
"If we compare what we did in 1992 with the successful work they did this year for Transforming Spaces in 2012, it's unbelievable. I can't even believe first of all that they would think to take such risks and then actually follow through."
At one point, however, the pair - along with other notable contemporary peers like Heino Schmid - were making art with a similar kind of abandon at Popopstudios ICVA through collaborative exhibitions like "Love", "Exit" and "Exhibit A" that placed contemporary art at the forefront of the Bahamian imagination. Though Popopstudios has grown and changed in many ways since its establishment, having "20/20" displayed in the space is an exciting and poignant homecoming for the duo.
"I think those first shows, collaborative shows, were collective and interactive experiences," says Lunn. "I think even in the beginning though people didn't buy a lot of work, they enjoyed the experience. There was a lot of breakthrough work happening and investigating and you could feel the love."
"It's an example about how things can develop from an organic collection of energy and creativity and focus," adds Cox. "There was a rebellion happening, but not a deconstructive rebellion, more of a constructive rebellion - it's like, you know what? I don't really get that, and I respect what's happened, but I'm doing it this way, and you can either come along for the ride or you can not."
In creating that path off of the mainstream through their practices at Popopstudios, its creators unknowingly made one of the most significant contributions to advancing alternative visual art practices in The Bahamas through the last two decades. Yet Cox and Lunn know the conversation does not stop here, especially as the Bahamian art community continues to grow at a rapid pace with exciting new talent.
"I feel a little bit like it's a community conversation and I feel like the dialogue Toby and I had in the show was part of something bigger," says Cox.
"You know when you go to a baseball game and three people in the game will start chanting and clapping something, and then it's five, then it's ten, and then half the stadium is doing the same thing? I feel like that's been the metaphor for 1992 up to now," he continues. "You get this energy - and then it stops, which is probably a good thing before it gets commoditized and you can buy it at Target. That's when you know it's over."
o "20/20" opens Wednesday, December 19 at Popopstudios ICVA from 6-9 p.m. For more information, visit www.popopstudios.com.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Bahamas Wholesale Agency (Freeport) Ltd. has generously made a $5,000 donation to the bridge project at Lucayan National Park. Wayne Russell, General Manager of B.W.A., made the cheque presentation to Karin Sanchez, Chairman of the GB Regional Branch of the Bahamas National Trust at B.W.A.ís Grand Bahama headquarters on Milton Street on July 31, 2009
Honourable Members will be aware that Mr. Ehurd Cunningham, former Acting Financial Secretary, passed away last weekend. I want to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude and that of the Nation for the many years of dedicated and tireless service that he so warmly provided to his dearly beloved country. Mr. Cunningham was instrumental in initiating, and indeed championed, many of the fundamental and much-needed reforms to Government on which we are presently embarked. His memory will live on in the enhanced economy and society that will emerge from our efforts.
The Bahamian Contractors' Association (BCA) honored several of the country's top contractors during its second annual Christmas Awards Luncheon held on December 15 2011. Awards were given to contractors in four major BCA membership categories, which include building contractor of the year levels one through three and general contractor of the year.
Building Contractor of the year level one, which recognizes contractors certified to build single story structures up to 5,000 square feet, went to BJ's Cabinetry and Construction.
BJ's Cabinetry proprietor, Mr. Basil L. Neely, was on hand to accept the award.
The Building Contractor of the year level two, which recognizes contractors certified to build up to two story structures of up to 10,000 square feet, was awarded to D.H. Builders and Construction Company.
Company owner Dene Hales said that he was honored to receive the award.
Fast Track Construction received the building contractor of the year level three award.
BCA level three contractors are certified to build up to three story structures of up to 15,000 square feet.
General contractor of the year, which recognizes the large construction firms who build structures of three or more stories in excess of 15,000 square feet, went to Woslee Construction.
The highlight of the event came when James George Mosko, the 2011 recipient of the BCA's lifetime achievement honor, was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation to accept his award.
The lifetime achievement award is given to members of the construction community who have made many years of notable contributions to the growth of the industry.
In 2001 Mr. Mosko was also awarded an O.B.E. for service to the construction industry. His construction company, Mosko's United Construction Co., was founded in 1958.
Another highlight of the luncheon was the president's address, given by Association President Godfrey Forbes.
Forbes mentioned a few of the many initiatives that will be developed by the BCA in 2012, which include expanded training and certification courses for contractors and the introduction of membership cards and the BCA member discount program.
Forbes also announced that in October of 2012 the BCA will host a conference of over 200 contractors from 20 regional entities including the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association, Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica , Builder's and Contractors Association of Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines Contractors Association, and the Barbados Contractors Association.
This workshop will include guest speakers who will deliver presentations that will build greater awareness amongst participants on cutting edge procedures and practices within the various divisions of the construction industry.
It will also offer international exposure for our sector and networking opportunities for BCA members.
The awards luncheon, received good support from the construction community. The platinum sponsor of the event was Caribbean International.
Other sponsors included Commonwealth Building Supplies, National Plumbing, Tops Builders International and Oldcastle Building Products.
One luncheon feature, which was highly anticipated by attendees, was the give-a-ways and door prizes, which were provided by JBR Building Supplies, Tops Lumber, AG Electric Co., Henry F. Storr Electric Co. and John Bull Ltd.
BCA is a non-profit organization that was established in 1958 out of a need for the collaboration and organization of contractors, to promote the advancement of the construction industry through the adoption and regulation of good practices.