|Baha Mar to hire fewer Chinese workers|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Aug 20, 2012
The number of foreign workers bringing the $3.5 billion Baha Mar development to fruition is "trending downwards", with approximately 1,300 now on the ground.
Robert ‘Sandy’ Sands, senior vice president of administration and external relations, estimated there are 850 Chinese workers at Baha Mar. That compares with 350 in February, but remains far off the thousands first envisioned by the developer.
Tiger Wu, vice president of China State Construction America, told Guardian Business in February that around 2,000 workers will arrive between June of next year and February 2014, as the mega resort drives towards its December 2014 opening. An expansive and fully-equipped man camp awaits their arrival.
However, Sands reported on Friday that while the number of Chinese workers will indeed change, Bahamians can expect more jobs than previously expected during this period. The announcement should please government officials that remain keen on maximizing employment opportunities for locals.
"Our Bahamian hires have been trending higher than our forecast, and we're currently at 1,700 plus. Our hires in terms of expats to date are much less than we projected at this point in time," he explained.
Clarifying that 1,700 locals represents total jobs created on the project, and not the number currently working, Sands insisted that Baha Mar plans to utilize 1,300 foreign workers over the next four to six weeks.
The executive was reluctant to assign a specific figure to the final number of Chinese workers.
"It is very difficult to estimate, but certainly, what will be encouraging is we'll not be at the ratio we originally envisioned, to the benefit of Bahamian numbers," he added.
Since the beginning, the resort's goal has been to create up to 4,500 jobs for Bahamians over the course of the project. Executives now expect to eclipse this figure.
The developer, China State Construction America, has found it can accomplish similar goals with fewer Chinese workers and subsequently, create more jobs for Bahamians at the same time.
Sands dismissed the notion that it has been more difficult than anticipated to hire such a large influx of Chinese workers. He said "there have been snags, with certain labor in demand and projects happening all over the world". That said, he called the disruption minimal, and the largest single-phase resort project in the Caribbean is on time and on budget.
The skeletal superstructure of the much-anticipated casino hotel now dominates the Cable Beach skyline. An announcement is expected soon on which company will sign the dotted line with Baha Mar, becoming the largest casino in the Caribbean with more than 9,000 square meters of floor space.
Across the street, heavy excavation work continues on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. These more visible signs of progress join the millions of moving parts clicking in tandem at Baha Mar.
In terms of further work for local contractors, an announcement should be made soon regarding the 300,000-square-foot convention center. A number of local firms have vied for the lucrative contract.