By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie said despite meeting with Baha Mar executives “every single day” over continuing challenges with completion of the $3.5bn project, only resort officials can now say when the mega resort will open.
On Tuesday, Mr Christie told The Tribune that he was “consumed” by the resort’s opening delay as he confirmed that work on West Bay Street’s mega-resort had come to a standstill.
When asked yesterday if he could update the public on whether an opening date for the resort was imminent, Mr Christie replied: “This is a major matter going on… only the Baha Mar people could tell you that and speak to the opening date.”
He spoke briefly to reporters as he left the House of Assembly following the morning session where members of Parliament opened the 2015/2016 budget debate.
During his budget communication last week, Mr Christie told parliamentarians that Baha Mar’s developer was nearing an end to talks with its general contractor on the completion of the project and the announcement of the resort’s opening date. However, he only gave the project a brief mention in his nearly three-hour long speech.
At the time he said: “This single phase development is the largest of its kind in this hemisphere (and) has already hired 2,000 new employees and will ramp up further, increasing to 5,000 when fully operational.”
“I remain fully engaged with the developer, general contractor, the Chinese government and the hotel operators in bringing this project to a successful conclusion at the earliest possible time,” the prime minister added.
Mr Christie had said earlier that the developer – the Izmirlian family – wishes to finalise a precise date for the project’s completion while the contractor, China Construction America (CCA), wants instalment payments.
Tribune Business revealed exclusively in April that China Construction had “slowed down” its work on the Baha Mar project due to a dispute with the developer over how much it should have been paid in February.
Mr Christie said he acted as mediator in the dispute, adding that he has emphasised to the relevant parties that the project is very important to the progress of this country.
Baha Mar is five months behind its December 2014 opening date and has missed a March 27 soft opening. The property was finally expected to open in May, but issues with the resort’s main contractor have contributed to continued delays.
In a statement earlier this year, Baha Mar criticised the performance of China Construction, revealing that work at the property had not met the expected “standards of excellence” and was, therefore, not acceptable.
Baha Mar added that it had relied on statements from its construction manager and lead contractor when it had earlier announced a March 27 opening date.
Since then a new opening date has not been provided.
Earlier this month, The Tribune visited Baha Mar’s website to find that the earliest available date for booking accommodations was now September 8.
Meanwhile, hundreds of employees of the resort have been reassigned from the jobs for which they were hired and asked to perform different activities both within the resort and around the island, including cleaning up public beaches.