Airport deal needs dose of post-virus perspective
As we know, life is about perspectives. What one may view as good, another may view as not so good. It's all about perspectives.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed the entire world being forced to evolve in order to deal with the effects of Covid-19 and its subsequent results on health, life and economics.
Around the world, countries have dealt with Covid-19, with different methodologies.
In the United States of America, denial by the President of the seriousness of this pandemic has led to the needless deaths of more than 52,000 persons as of last night.
Meanwhile, in Canada, proactive measures have led to a mere 2,300 persons succumbing to this dreaded virus.
Here in Bermuda, we have been incredibly fortunate to have acted proactively to put in place a number of great measures to mitigate the loss of life while ensuring the people are cared for.
Steps such as:
• Closing of the borders on March 20
• Closing of schools
• Closing of all non-essential businesses
• Mandatory use of facial masks in public spaces
• Alphabetical shopping days to cut down on long crowds
• Robust road checks to ensure public order is kept
• Almost daily press briefings to keep the people informed
• Dedicated government Whatsapp
• Unemployment benefit scheme
• Co-ordination of third sector charity network
• Dedicated quarantine facilities for returning students and residents
• Two testing facilities with the ability to do hundreds of tests per day
That is the good news.
A quick reality check will have us realising that we are now facing the following stark realities:
• Loss of jobs for summer students
• An almost loss of the 2020 tourism season
• Thousands of hospitality workers unemployed
• Taxi and minibus operators unemployed
• Beach house concessionaires unemployed
The other unfortunate reality is that we have the very real probability of the Aecon airport deal backfiring on us.
As we recall, the original contract has a provision that the taxpayer must provide guaranteed revenue to Aecon in the eventuality of a dip in passenger load.
As of March 20, we have had zero departing passengers.
The question now is, will Aecon attempt to demand any form of payments, from a government rightfully focused on keeping nearly 65,000 persons alive, well and safe for the foreseeable future.
Is it about Aecon's profits or is it about the Bermudian people's survival?
It's all about perspectives.
• Darius Tucker is a former United Bermuda Party MP and Progressive Labour Party candidate