A senior official of Preconco Ltd, a Mark Maloney-managed company, today voiced fears that hundreds of workers could lose their jobs and millions of dollars in investment could leave Barbados if the Town & Country Planning Department does not give the go-ahead for a number of projects submitted by Maloney’s group of companies.
Speaking against the backdrop of a public tussle between Maloney and Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins that started over an order to stop building a storage facility for Rock Hard Cement off the Spring Garden Highway, Assistant Financial Controller Kirk Smith told reporters there were several projects for which Maloney was yet to receive permission, despite submitting applications and the relevant documents months ago.
Standing in solidarity with Maloney, their managing director, about ten per cent of the group’s approximately 1,000 workers gathered on the Preconco compound this morning where they expressed dissatisfaction with the latest developments, including the dismantling by Town Planning officials of a hut erected at the Lears roundabout that was maintained by the company.
Smith told reporters that while the issue related to the roundabout was a part of the reason for their show of unity, “the real issue is that if we don’t get projects going, it will impact everyone here in terms of future employment”.
“And you don’t want another burden to the NIS [National Insurance Scheme] office and you know when you have unemployment, things like crime go up and not that these guys will do that, but that is generally what happens when you have unemployment. People have to find other ways to support their families.
“If we don’t get these permissions going, what does Preconco do next? What does the staff do? People need to understand that when you are trying to be spiteful to Mark Maloney in spite of everything that he has done for this beautiful island of Barbados, that you are impacting up to 1,000 people. Not to mention hundreds of other subcontractors that work with us on a daily or weekly basis on projects across the island,” Smith said.
Chief among the projects of concern to Smith were the Hyatt Hotel and The Ridge housing project.
Just last Thursday during a ground breaking ceremony at the international hotel chain Sandals, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy expressed hope that the Hyatt Hotel project would get going soon.
Smith could not say how much Preconco stood to lose if the Hyatt and The Ridge projects did not get off the ground, but said a lot of time and effort had gone into them.
“Those are the main ones and if the ones we have right now don’t come to fruition in a few months’ time, Preconco will be at a standstill. And that is something that the management are working along with him [Maloney] to try to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Smith revealed.
The Ridge is a proposed low-income housing development, which will be located close to the roundabout near the Coral Ridge cemetery.
Smith said he did not know why permission had not been granted for those two projects.
The Preconco Assistant Financial Controller could not say what cost, if any, the company had incurred so far as a result of its battle with the Town and Country Planning Department.
Turning his attention to the Villages at Coverley housing project, which started in 2010, Smith questioned why that development, which was a product of another one of Maloney’s companies, Housing Concepts SRL, had been reportedly barred from selling any more houses.