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Time to seize Bermuda’s 21st-century opportunity

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We are now just months away from breaking ground on a badly needed 21st-century, state-of-the-art airport terminal.

Why do I say badly needed?

Because the day-to-day reality of the existing terminal is sewage back-ups, bad smells, leaking roofs, mechanical and system breakdowns, and the ever-present threat of storm-surge flooding.

It is an ageing, crumbling facility whose useful life was supposed to have ended in 2008. Since then, dedicated airport staff have held it together, but we are at the end of the line and need to act now.

For those who want to take a closer look at the situation, I urge you to watch On Borrowed Time, the Bermuda Airport video at https://youtu.be/4smMBCsaong.

The Airport Redevelopment Project is one part of the Government's economic revitalisation plan, injecting millions of dollars into the economy while growing jobs for Bermudians without reducing our capacity to invest in education, safety and other social programmes.

With that said, I want to take a few minutes of your time to update you on what we are doing to make this vital project happen.

In July, we unveiled the airport design. As a result of input from public meetings, consultants will make adjustments to include more Bermudian design motifs and materials. In addition, the design and construction teams are reviewing energy systems to maximise efficiencies.

Aecon has been very thorough in its cost estimates, engaging engineering experts and undertaking geotechnical surveys to ensure accuracy. We are now reviewing final costs with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon will soon share this information with the public.

Our arrangement with the Government of Canada means that CCC provides an assurance that the project will be delivered on time, on budget and on spec — setting the gold standard for future large-scale infrastructure projects in Bermuda.

It is important to keep in mind that Bermuda will always retain full ownership of the airport. Contrary to what some people say, we are not giving it away, nor are we giving away the land upon which it sits.

Once the contract is signed, we will create an airport authority to oversee Project Co, the company formed by Aecon to actually build the new terminal. The airport authority will be an entity formed by the Government of Bermuda to ensure Project Co's accountability to the Government and the people of Bermuda.

Project Co will take over the operations of the existing airport once contract and financing arrangements are finalised and signed off. To prepare for this transition, Aecon has been meeting with the Department of Workforce Development and local contractors to determine what skills are available and what skills will need to be developed. The project will create major opportunities for on-the-job skills development and experience, including internships for new Bermudian workers.

Aecon is committed to an open hiring process to find the most qualified contractors to complete the project in terms of quality and timing. In keeping with our promise to create jobs for Bermudians, the Government is working closely with Aecon to prepare tendering packages for contractor and subcontractor bids for work scheduled to begin in the new year. These will be announced shortly, and Bermudian workers and contractors are encouraged to step forward to take advantage of the opportunities.

This is a huge opportunity for Bermuda — building a 21st-century lifeline to the world, enhancing our tourism and business industries while providing much needed economic opportunities for families across the island.

I am incredibly excited about it and I hope that all Bermudians will embrace this opportunity for what it is: the chance to build our future and to put Bermudians back to work.

•Michael Dunkley is the Premier of Bermuda and the MP for Smith's North (Constituency 10). The redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport is being advanced under a development agreement between the governments of Canada and Bermuda. The Canadian Commercial Corporation is a Crown corporation for the Government of Canada and brings expertise in international contracting for complex purchases and the experience to select highly capable suppliers, such as Aecon. Aecon Group Inc is a Canadian leader in construction and infrastructure development, providing integrated turnkey services to private and public sector clients through its Concessions division.

Lifeline to the world: the new airport terminal will enhance tourism

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Published October 07, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 07, 2016 at 2:53 am)

Time to seize Bermuda’s 21st-century opportunity

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