For the next 15 months, a number of retrenched public sector workers will have a job building the new headquarters of the Port Authority at Fontabelle.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said that the $20 million project will employ over 200 people. He said that contractors have given preference to workers who were retrenched under the International Monetary Fund-approved Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
“I did mention that there are going to be about 200 or so persons employed at different stages of the actual building, which is good because we’re always looking for ways to employ people. In our conversation with [contractors] we made it clear and they were more than willing to do it that some of the persons who were retrenched from Government agencies should be given first priority,” said Humphrey, who further revealed that the new building will house the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy as well as the 500 Port employees.
The Minister who was speaking to reporters following the ground-breaking ceremony at the former home of the Party Stand, was unable to give the exact number of retrenched workers that would be employed on the project. However, he was confident that the retrenched workers would represent a significant portion of the 200 workers on the building.
“This is part of the promise that the Prime Minister [Mia Mottley] made that we will be employing the persons who were sent home. So, a number of persons who have been laid off will be working on this project. We wouldn’t be sure of the actual numbers as yet, but I am happy to say that it would be a significant number of people,” Humphrey said.
However, he noted that while the newly laid-off workers were given preference, being employed on the project depended on their skill sets.
“The project will employ 200 people depending on the skill sets because not every person’s going to have the necessary skill set to do the job, but if it is a job that somebody who’s been in the service fit the bill, then there’ll be here. Of course, there are also people who haven’t been working, who also want the opportunity to work so we’re not going to monopolize it, but not only persons who were in the Government, but a significant share of persons retrenched from Government will be working on the project,” he said.
Humphrey also stressed that measures were being put in place to ensure that the new building does not end up on the list of sick Government buildings a few years down the road.
“There’s been a process from the very beginning of ensuring that the drawings meets the specifications that we want and we’ve gone over them several times. We have been working very closely to make sure that everything is in place, both in relation to the actual capacity and what’s inside the physical structure, but also the timelines that we have set for ourselves,” he stressed.