By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) has submitted $50 million worth of proposals to the Government for airport and road maintenance on 10 islands, with the former work alone set to create 750 jobs if approved.
Atario Mitchell, Bahamas Striping’s president, said the company had approached the Government more than a year ago on the two proposals, which would see airports on 10 Family Islands brought up to International Civil Avaiation Organisation (ICAO) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards. The firm would also improve the road signage and markings on the islands.
Allen Albury, Bahamas Striping’s managing director, said the Ministry of Finance had last June approved the framework for a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Government and the company.
A week ago, Bahamas Striping received a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which he described as “a tremendous milestone” in terms of moving the PPP discussions forward.
“We’re really excited about this simply because of what this translates into for us as a group of companies,” Mr Albury said. “It means enhanced safety of our aviation infrastructure across the country, as well as also improving the safety of our road networks.
“One of the unique things abut these Family Islands is that with the road networks there is an abundance of curbs, and many of them are not marked and they lack the necessary street signage. What the PPP initiative is going to do is bring the necessary infrastructure to those islands.”
Mr Albury said the PPP projects would provide economic stimulus to the selected islands, which include New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, San Salvador, Acklins, Grand Bahama, Long Island and Exuma.
“When we go into each of the various islands we will be hiring locals from those islands, and I believe that in each of the islands, with the airports, we are looking at a minimum of 75 persons being hired,” he added.
“When you combine that across 10 airports, that’s an employment impact of 750 persons over the course of the works just to the airports.”
Mr Mitchell added: “We are still very much in the ongoing negotiations and finalising the MOU. We intend to meet them [the Government] very soon to finalise it, and once we get a signed contract we are ready and willing to start right away.”
Mr Mitchell said that included in Bahamas Striping’s proposal was the use of the asphalt rejuvenator, RejuvaSeal. “The Ministry of works asked us to complete scientific testing to prove that this product is viable for sand seal surfaces, which we have done, and the report is completed and has been presented to the Ministry of Works,” he added.
Brad Dunn, director of business development at Hi-Lite Airfield Services, said: “The Ministry of Works required us to do due diligence on the performance of the product. This essentially is is a maintenance process to extend the life cycle of both road and runway pavements.
“It’s a product that both seals the surface, protecting it from contaminants and elements that deteriorate the pavement, and it also revitalises the pavement, putting the elements back into the pavement that deteriorate and dry out over time. It’s a very costly section of infrastructure, road work and road maintenance.”
Mr Dunn said the results of those tests showed RejuvaSeal had produced effective results.
“We also had to make sure that vehicles and airplanes on the runways still have good breaking capacity and skid resistance to where it was safe after the completion of the application of the product, and we had very good results on that as well,” Mr Dunn said.
John McNeely, president and chief executive of Hi-Lite Global, added: “With regards to the PPP, we are also working closely on the financial part.
“There is ongoing discussions with the US Export-Import Bank with regards to financing and, as the process moves forward, we expect to close this deal before year’s end and we are really excited about being here in the Bahamas.”