remedy times;”> Citing financial insolvency of the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar project on Cable Beach, Justice Ian Winder of the Bahamas Supreme Court approved the request of the Joint Provisional Liquidators to separate 2,020 Baha Mar employees on Thursday, effective Friday, October 23.
The joint provisional liquidators are Bahamas-based KRyS Global and UK-based AlixPartners and the resort project has been stalled since June 29 when the bankruptcy petition was filed in a Delaware court.
Of the 2,020 persons laid-off, 1,440 were non-active employees and 580 were active.
“Though today’s layoffs are difficult on everyone, it further highlights the urgency for everyone to remain at the negotiating table and maintain the dialogue that may lead to a resolution, a re-start of construction and the completion of the Baha Mar project,” said Edmund Rahming, KRyS Global Managing Director.
“We were paying housekeeping staff when there was no housekeeping to do, spa staff when there was no spa, casino staff when there was no casino to operate,” said Alastair Beveridge, AlixPartners. “Thanks to monies that were made available to us by the Government from funds that were due to Baha Mar for road construction works, we were able to keep these staff members on as long as we did. We know that they have obligations, that many of them gave up other jobs to join the Baha Mar dream team and now we are continuing to focus on how best to make that dream a reality.”
The redundancy exercise did not affect the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
Prime Minister Christie “disappointed” over Baha Mar lay-offs
Acknowledging that the level of insolvency coupled with protracted negotiations were the causes of the lay-offs, Prime Minister Perry G. Christie in a press statement expressed “disappointment for the affected Baha Mar employees and their families at the action taken by the Joint Provisional Liquidators in making some 2,000 employees redundant. This arises from the insolvency of Baha Mar and the protracted exercise to secure a negotiated settlement.”
The statement said that the government made a strong appeal to the provisional liquidators in a bid to save Bahamian jobs.
“The Government has made the strongest possible representation to the Joint Provisional Liquidators and the stakeholders in this commercial transaction between the developer Baha Mar, the secured lender China Export Import Bank and the principal contractor and an equity partner China State Engineering and Construction Company, for the retention of Bahamian staff, meeting outstanding obligations to Bahamian contractors and sub-contractors, funding (both interim and for completion purposes) and completing the project on mutually acceptable terms as soon as possible.”
Referencing the decision date of 2nd November when the liquidation process could officially begin, the Prime Minister promised continued dialogue with relevant stakeholders with a view to securing the best possible outcome that best serves the national interest.
“Whether the process of a negotiated arrangement is achieved or the Bank proceeds to receivership in the time remaining before November 2nd, 2015 date when the process of liquidation could be started, the Government is presently engaged in meetings and other dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and the Joint Provisional liquidators to arrive at the best possible solution which will best serve the national interest.”
Minister Hanna-Martin sets record straight on Doppler radar
Transport Minister Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin called a press conference at her Ministry on Monday to respond to newspaper reports claiming that the Doppler radar at the Department of Meteorology was not operational for a period of time during the approach of Hurricane Joaquin. The newspaper story further alleged that because of this, residents in the affected southern islands of The Bahamas were not adequately notified of the approaching storm.
The Minister called the newspaper claims “completely untrue.”
The Minister challenged the newspaper’s assertion on several fronts. Firstly she claimed that the source, a Met Office forecaster, was a questionable and unreliable source. She pointed out that the same forecaster made a false claim during the storm that 30 persons on Long Island had died during the storm with 8 confirmed. Further, the newspaper’s Managing Editor chastised the forecaster for “fueling hysteria” in an article on 5th October 2015, but uses him as a credible source days later.
Secondly, Minister Hanna-Martin confirmed that contrary to the log entry by the forecaster, the Director of the Meteorology Department, the radar technician and the Information Technology Officer all confirmed to her that at all material times “prior to the approach of Hurricane Joaquin and throughout the progress of the storm the radar was operational.”
Minister Hanna-martin also stated that the Doppler radar is just a supplemental tool to “satellite imagery, the lightning detection network and computer modeling from a variety of official international sources” in tracking a hurricane.
She further stated that despite the guidance of the National Hurricane Center, “the professionals of the Department of Meteorology of The Bahamas broke ranks and issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the South East Bahamas at 5:00pm on Wednesday, 30th September 2015 and a Hurricane Warning for the South East Bahamas on Thursday, 1st October 2015 at 6:00am.” This proactive response drew praise from the CNEMA.
The record also shows that the Met Office issued twenty-seven weather bulletins during the course of hurricane Joaquin. This brings me to my question of what the local media did with those 27 bulletins. This is in fact the million dollar question and the proverbial 800lbs gorilla in the room! It is understood that both the Met Office and NEMA do not own and operate newspapers, television and radio stations so the public necessarily must rely on the media to inform and warn them about impending natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. There is also a Broadcasting Act explicitly governing the handling of Public Service Announcements under these circumstances.
An investigation into just how the local media handled these 27 weather bulletins released by the Met Office and NEMA just might prove to be very interesting, instructive and just might provide one of those “teachable moments” Prime Minister Christie alluded to in the aftermath of Joaquin. Thus far, mum’s the word from the press corps on this question.