MONDAY, OCT. 1: Good morning,

I am pleased to provide an update on the work that is being done to progress the hotel development at the Morgan’s Point site.

With me today is the Chairman of the Morgan’s Point steering committee, Mrs. Janet Albion, Interim Director of the Office of Project Management and Procurement and Ms. Rozy Azhar, Assistant Cabinet Secretary, a member of the Committee.

The Steering Committee is an intra-agency board composed of the Financial Secretary and Permanent Secretaries from the Public Works; Government Estates and Information Services; Environment Planning and Infrastructure.

Mr. Craig Christensen representing the principals of Morgan’s Point Limited, who are developing the site, attends the steering committee meetings as an ex-officio member. Mr. Christensen has been working very closely with the Office of Project Management and Procurement.

This demonstrates Government’s commitment to working closely with the developers to progress this development and to ensure that we meet our commitments on schedule and within the allocated budget.

Like many others, the Greens who have recently purchased Fairmont Hamilton, Equator Re, the Irish company that has domiciled in Bermuda; Link Bermuda; and our other loyal local, insurance and international companies, the Morgan’s Point developers believe in the rejuvenation of Bermuda and in hard working Bermudians. As a result, this project will provide jobs for our people in the short-term, medium-term and long-term.

I am pleased to announce that work has begun!

We have started the remediation work which is the responsibility of the Government and is necessary to prepare the site for the construction. This project is being managed by the Office of Project Management and Procurement [OPMP].

OPMP has already begun to secure the perimeter of the Southampton site and to clear vegetation and other unnecessary obstacles in order for asbestos abatement works to begin in earnest on 8th October, 2012.One of the challenges that we have discovered is that many persons have used the vacant land to store their property. Both the Government and the developers must ensure that there is no risk to life and limb and that all building equipment that is on the property is secured.

Therefore, we can no longer allow unauthorised entry to or unauthorised storage on the site. You will be aware that public notices have been issued this week to advise owners of boats, equipment and other unauthorised items currently stored at Morgan’s that they need to remove their property from the site to allow the works to progress. 

For the duration of the works, only personnel authorised by OPMP will be allowed access to the site, and this includes access via the bays and waterways. While these steps are necessary, the remediation work poses very little risk to the environment and the public.  In the next few weeks, the OPMP will set up a dedicated website to allow the public to see progress on site.  The website will also include links to the developer’s site when it becomes available.

You will remember that in May 2012, I issued a press statement on how the procurement processes would benefit Bermudians in which I stated: “The Office of Project Management and Procurement has almost completed the recruitment of project managers which will provide direct management of more complex projects allowing for the increased use of smaller businesses. This is intended to spread the wealth and reduce the risk of over- reliance on only the limited number of general contractors. There will be an announcement in due course on one major project that is intended to involve a number of small contractors, under the guidance of an OPMP project manager, to complete the first phase of the project.”

I am pleased to highlight that this is the project that I was alluding to. The OPMP is currently negotiating with all known certified asbestos remediation companies to allocate specific buildings for each of them to work on.  In other words, rather than tendering and allowing only one company to benefit, we will be ensuring that contractors ‘share the wealth’.

Not only will contractors be benefitting. This strategy will provide opportunities to some of our unemployed Bermudians.

Traditionally, Bermuda has not had enough skilled and qualified people working in the asbestos abatement field. I am pleased to announce today that, OPMP, in conjunction with the Department of Labor & Training, will be offering up to 40 currently unemployed persons the chance to attend a free four-day training seminar to certify them as competent in working with asbestos.

The Department of Labour and Training is currently short-listing suitable persons who will go through the recruitment process that will qualify them for employment.  After qualification, Government will work with the contractors to ensure that as many employment opportunities as possible are given to these trained personnel on the Morgan’s’ Point project. Interested persons may apply at the Department of Labour and Training.

This initiative will allow us to expand the number of certified Bermudians in the field, thereby reducing our dependency on overseas resources and prepare our people not only for employment on the remediation project but for future opportunities as well.

This Government is committed to providing the infrastructure to encourage investment in Bermuda and by, doing so, getting all of our people back to full employed.

Thank you.