Truckers protest Baha Mar contractor’s per load rate
By CHESTER ROBARDS
Guardian Staff Reporter
Baha Mar has not yet broken ground and already the development has hit a road block, with almost 60 truckers yesterday refusing to work along with the company contracted to build the new road that will connect JFK Drive with the diverted Cable Beach Strip, until they are paid$30 to$40 more for their services.
Chairman of the Independent Truckers and Heavy Equipment Operators of The Bahamas, Gus Outten, said Island Site Developers(ISD)has offered to pay the truckers$45 per load of fill they move to and from the road construction site.
However, Outten and the group of truckers, who parked almost 50 large trucks in an empty lot just east of the Cable Beach Police Station, said they want$80 per load and will not settle for less than$75 per load. The truckers held up placards citing the cost of fuel as well as other signs demanding their preferred payment.
“We are here in solidarity and we’re here as long as necessary to get a fair share of this economic pie,”said Outten.
Principal of ISD(a joint venture company consisting of Bahamas Marine Construction and Bahamas Hot Mix), Jimmy Mosko, yesterday offered to pay the truckers$55 per load instead of the initial 45, but the men declined the new offer.
Outten said with fuel costs on the rise, maintenance costs on their trucks looming and higher prices imposed by government for vehicle licensing, the money being offered by ISD will simply not go far enough.
“We were looking for$80 per load from here to Arawak Cay, but we’re not going lower than 75 bucks for the smaller trucks because one gallon of diesel is almost five bucks and it takes you five gallons to get there and back, at least,”Outten said.
“We’re here today to put on a peaceful demonstration against those mega-contract companies that have started to deal with this Baha Mar project. The prime minister said that the rates were reasonable at 75 bucks an hour from Arawak Cay to the dump, but these mega companies want to pay these truckers 45 dollars per load.”
Outten added that 25 years ago truckers earned 50 dollars per load from Arawak Cay to the dump.
“Since then everything went up,”he said.”From truck tires, all the maintenance, fuel. All we want is a fair share of the pie.”
Outten said he and the other truckers have been waiting on this project for four years. And for the last two of those years many of them have not worked because of the lack of work in the construction sector due to the recession.
“These guys haven’t worked for two years,”Outten said.”These trucks have been sitting up.”
He contended that the truckers will continue to fight and will not return to work unless a deal is struck.
Baha Mar’s Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Robert Sands said he hopes the issues between the contractors and sub-contractors can be resolved so that the project will run smoothly.