By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER several opening delays for $3.5 billion Baha Mar development, two of the nation’s religious leaders said they are “praying for the project’s successful opening because of the important role it plays” in the economy.
Bishop Simeon Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, and Rev Dr Philip McPhee, pastor at Mt Calvary Baptist Church said the “successful completion” of Baha Mar is “beyond partisan politics” due to the large number of workers depending on the project for employment.
“We wish to go on record as two clergymen praying for Baha Mar’s successful opening,” a statement from the two pastors said. “We also commend Baha Mar for continuing the employment of employees.
“We are motivated by the possibility of hundreds of local Bahamian workers losing their jobs. We commiserate with workers who have the spectre of unemployment looming over their heads.”
The pair said the executives of Baha Mar are to be “praised and commended” for holding on to their employees in the wake of construction delays and a dispute over payouts to the main contractor.
The highly touted project is roughly five-months behind schedule.
Last week Prime Minister Perry Christie said that China Construction America (CCA), the property’s main contractor, was demanding that certain payments be made.
Mr Christie, who has stepped in as a mediator, added that the disputing parties were “very close to a settlement,” and denied rumours that Baha Mar is running out of the cash needed to finish the project.
The mega-resort was originally scheduled for a December 2014 opening, but construction issues led to plans for a “soft opening” slotted for March 27, 2015.
Days before that planned “soft opening” resort officials said they were aiming for an early May opening.
No word has been given to this point on a new opening date.
Pre-booked guests have taken to social media and travel booking websites to complain about cancelled reservations.
Bishop Hall stated that although the Baha Mar matter was “an issue beyond the realm of religion” his conversations with employees at the resort gave him a unique view of the matter.
“We must learn to look beyond our political purview, beyond PLP, beyond FNM. This is an issue that goes beyond politics,” he told The Tribune.
“We are standing for the workers ... that have bills, expenses, issues. Many left jobs, we are trying to commiserate with the workers.”
Earlier this month, Mr Christie said he fears more delays in Baha Mar’s opening would cause job losses for Bahamians.