Friday, September 8, 2017
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamian contractors expect Irma to create “a bit of a boom” for their services, with one yesterday suggesting the industry may see work spike 45 per cent above normal levels.
Leonard Sands, the Bahamian Contractors Association’s (BCA) president, described the cause of the likely increased workload as “unfortunate”. However, he suggested the amount and timing would be different from Hurricane Matthew.
Mr Sands said there was potentially “a really weird” situation where Irma-related construction repairs might have to be delayed because of Hurricane Jose’s presence right behind it and the possibility that it, too, might hit the Bahamas.
And, despite Irma’s 175 mile per hour winds, making it stronger than Hurricane Matthew last year, the latter’s track took it through the Bahamas’ major population and economic centres of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Irma, despite being more powerful, is predicted to do most damage on the less populated islands of the south-eastern Bahamas, together with Andros, Bimini and Grand Bahama’s West End. As a result, the scale and cost of its damage may be less than Matthew.
“Unfortunately, yes, the BCA expects all its members to be fully engaged depending on the extent of the damage [from Irma],” Mr Sands told Tribune Business. “I think there will be a bit of a boom after the storm, but I don’t know how quickly.
“As scary as the storm seems, I don’t think it will have the same kind of impact as Hurricane Matthew. But because of the storm’s size it’s going to impact the entire country.
“I think we could see at least a 45 per cent bump above normal sector activity because it will touch the entire Bahama island chain.”
Mr Sands agreed that fears of construction material shortages, and price hikes, post-Irma were “a valid concern” should the storm wreak havoc across the entire state of Florida as projected.
“Recognising that we don’t produce anything, and recognising that most of the shipping lanes are out of the east coast of Florida, with most of the suppliers in the south-eastern US, if they’re impacted the supply of materials coming to the Bahamas will be impacted,” he said.
“Depending on how badly they are hit may impact our recovery efforts, and how - and how quickly - we can respond, especially on large projects. It will affect us. If they are not able to open up and do business as they were, it’s going to impact construction in the Bahamas.”
Mr Sands said there had been no problems obtaining necessary construction materials pre-Irma, arguing that the Bahamas’ level of preparedness for the storm had been “two times’ what it was for Matthew”.