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Baha Mar truckers start work after pay rate increase

Over 800,000 tons of fill were delivered to the Baha Mar grounds on the first day on the job by approximately 50 trucks which are part of the Independent Truckers Association. March 1, 2011 kicked off work for almost 100 truckers who are working on phase one of the$3.4 billion Baha Mar Resort project on Cable Beach. Both Arawak Cay and the Baha Mar site were buzzing with activity from the trucks, heavy equipment and just over 100 people at work on the road re-routing and commercial village projects.

At Arawak Cay, trucks were lined up to receive the fill that excavators were discarding into the back of the trucks. The sandy fill came from the Nassau Harbour dredging that ended in September 2010. Roughly 1.9 million cubic yards of material was removed during the harbor dredging. The$44 million dredging project of the Nassau Harbour was done primarily to accommodate the new mega-ships like Oasis of The Seas. Three mooring dolphins were also installed, as well as causeways and ladders at Prince George Wharf. In addition the western end of Arawak Cay was extended by 1,000 feet for the new container port. The trucks are now moving the fill to the Baha Mar site for the new road project.

The Independent Truckers Association(ITA)had a rocky start in regards to their pay rate, but things quickly leveled out with a positive outcome. Their demonstrations and peaceful protests began on February 14, 2011 when the association staged a three-day protest by parking 60 of their trucks just west of the Cable Beach Police Station. Their concerns were not with the government but with Island Site Development, the Bahamian contractor hired by Baha Mar. The truckers were offered$45.00 per load to move debris and fill from Arawak Cay to Baha Mar, or from Baha Mar to the City Dump. They felt the low rate was unacceptable and their goal was to get paid$75.00 or$80.00 per load. In the end, they achieved just slightly less.

The plight of the truckers had caught the attention of the public and also Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. By day 3 of the protests, a meeting had taken place and the issue was resolved.

Four independent contractors who represent 100 truckers are now on the job site, moving fill from Arawak Cay to Baha Mar’s Cable Beach site. They are on a rotation basis and approximately 50 truckers a day participate.”We estimated that on day 1 we moved over 400 loads,”said Gus Outten, who is one of the contractors. As the chairman of the ITA, he is also working on site to make sure that things are running smoothly, correcting any driver who is not adhering to the rules and regulations expected.

The Arawak Cay to Cable Beach Strip has come alive with the movement of these heavy-duty trucks and the public should take extra precaution when driving. One truck is the length of 2 average-sized cars and weighs approximately 30 to 40 tons. The Independent Truckers Association would like to advise pedestrians and the motoring public to use extreme caution. Trucks are moving with the flow of traffic and their work day is usually from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“We would like to thank the Bahamian public and our prime minister for being there for us and showing us compassion, as well as the police force for understanding our peaceful demonstration,”said Outten. He also stated that Jimmy Mosko of Island Site Development has been happy with their work.

The truckers are grateful to be working, as most had not worked for quite some time. Baha Mar’s project and the 2014 timeline for completion will allow the truckers to enjoy steady work for a few years.

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