March 15, 2013
Minister of Works and Urban Development Philip Brave Davis has said he is "pleased" with the amount of local labor used on the Airport Gateway Project - a development Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MPs rejected while in opposition. Davis told the House of Assembly on Wednesday during debate on the mid-year budget that the development is two months behind schedule and it is now set for a September 2013 finish.
China Construction America (CCA) is building the highway. "We have found that CCA has made extensive use of Bahamian subcontractors, including Apex, D&T Landscaping, Triple W and Knowles Construction. The great majority of people employed on this project are Bahamian," he said. "Only specialist companies have been brought in from outside The Bahamas to assist where local skills were not readily available. This was a happy change from the original plan to have the bulk of the work done by foreign nationals." Davis, who is also deputy prime minister, said the project has encountered "unforeseen challenges", including sink holes and unexpected utility lines that had to be removed.
The project was also impacted by Hurricane Sandy last year, he added. Despite the setbacks, Davis said most of the work on the highway is complete. "The roundabouts at Gladstone Road and Prospect Road are now open with the Blake Road roundabout shortly to be open," he said. "From Blake Road to the six-legged roundabout, the first layer of surfacing work is nearing completion on the new roadways and traffic is gradually being switched over to the new roadway to begin base preparation and surfacing of the remaining highway.
"The remaining months will see steady progress on the remaining roadwork items, completion of curbing, surfacing, signing, road marking, landscaping and street lighting." The government has spent $56.8 million or 80 percent of the project's budget, to date. Davis said there is $14.8 million remaining in the budget for the project. The project includes the construction of a dual carriageway on John F. Kennedy Drive and the creation of nine new roundabouts.
In September 2010, the PLP rejected a resolution to borrow nearly $58 million at a two percent interest rate from the Export-Import Bank of China to construct the new highway. At the time, the then opposition said it could not accept the loan requirement to bring in 200 Chinese workers to build the project.
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