Moniz: Bermudian workers and companies being put first in Heritage Wharf project
Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz last night hit back at critics of the $22 million Heritage Wharf upgrade, stating that the project had got off to a good start and was creating opportunities for Bermudians.
He said Bermudians had been put first in the recruitment of the workforce for the work at the Dockyard site, provided details of all the roles which had required workers to be brought in from overseas and added that no non-Bermudian construction companies had been invited to bid on the job.
His comments come after criticism from Shadow Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess, who questioned why 22 work permit holders were working on the job and whether Bermudians had been given fair opportunities to benefit from the project.
“The Heritage Wharf project is Bermudian led which provides opportunities for Bermudians,” Mr Moniz said in a statement. “Proposals were sought from six local construction companies. No non-Bermudian companies were invited to bid on the works.
“Local engineers, project managers and contractors are responsible for delivery of this important project and are working in close partnership with the Bermuda Government to this end.
“Further, that three local engineering firms have been employed to support the works, providing services in project management, geotechnical studies and traffic engineering and passenger management. Surveying is also being undertaken by local surveyors.”
Mr Moniz added that non-Bermudian workers were limited to specialists who had technical expertise not available locally. These roles included weld testing, geological drilling and testing, interpretation of geological information, pile load testing, and operation of the piling equipment on the barges and to supplement the Bermudian welders.
The Minister’s statement categorised the 22 temporary work permits as follows: crane operator (one), diver and steel pile installer (eight), engineer/project manager (one), project manager (three), pile diver (five), technician/weld inspector (one), commercial diver welder and steel pile installer (one), ironworker welder/foreman (one) and welder (one).
Mr Moniz reiterated that local employees would make up 75 percent or more of the project’s total workforce.
He added that the majority of the elements of the dock will be constructed and procured in Bermuda from materials already on Island. He When the dock was originally built, he said, a lot of precast elements used were procured in the US.
Bermudian labour was currently employed at both Heritage Wharf and the South Basin sites, Mr Moniz said. Their activities include fixing steel reinforcement and forms for concrete shuttering to placing concrete, operating local barges for transportation of the construction barges, one of which is Bermudian owned with one hired from the US, and as divers, landside drilling and piling operations and installation of services and security for the site, as well as welding.
Bermudian welders had been assessed and those that had passed the quality control checks were being employed on the project.
“Bermudian labour has been present on the piling barges throughout the construction activities,” the Minister added.
“They are also being trained in a safe manner to take on some of the work of the non-Bermudian employees. Taking this course of action will ensure we will have experienced local labour that should be able to undertake future works of this nature.
“However, this does not guarantee that in future we will not have to bring in foreign operatives as the time and extent of experience will be limited to this construction project.
“However, it is envisioned that the ratio of foreign to local employees will be reduced even further. And as promised, I will continue to keep the general public in the loop as we countdown to the date we are working towards, that being May 15, 2013.”
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