Several truckers at the Arawak Port Development (APD) company were up in arms yesterday morning after they were not allowed to enter the port facility until after 8:00 a.m.
The workers claim that 8:00 a.m. is not a good time for truckers to start business as they usually begin work between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Bahamas Bulk Material Company accountant, Kirkwood Simmons told the Bahama Journal that his company was billed a gate fee, which it has to pay for any activity outside of the port’s operating hours.
“This morning I came and parked my car outside the gate because I was told the gates would not open until 8:00 a.m.,” he told the Journal yesterday.
“The truckers came behind me and they parked their trucks because they were not allowed access either. Some of them were here from 6:30 a.m. but they didn’t let them in. Prior to [yesterday], these truckers were coming here at 6:30 and being let in and it was never a problem. We had no notice of the 8:00 a.m. start but yet we received a bill for $300.”
He said the timing affects the trucking business because the later they start, the less work done in a single day.
“I’m in the construction business,” Mr. Simmons said.
“No construction business starts at 8:00 in the morning. It can’t happen. There’s too much traffic on the street at the time. We have a site at Baha Mar that runs 24 hours and I’m responsible for getting aggregate to them every day. I shouldn’t be held responsible to pay a fee to conduct my normal course of business. It doesn’t make sense.”
But APD Limited CEO, Michael Maura Jr. told the Journal that the port has always operated from Mondays to Fridays between 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
He also said they are open on Saturdays between 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
“It’s been routine that we would have various shipping companies that will request for us to open the port outside of those hours for various reasons,” Mr. Maura said.
“We can extend hours, but we have to make sure that we have additional security personnel, gate personnel, additional terminal support and that the truckers are coming in on time but there’s obviously a cost associated with opening a business outside of the standard hours. All the companies have to do, if they want use of the port during extended hours, is say that they want access at whatever time they need.”
He said APD understands the truckers want to get out earlier so that they can maximise the work they do in a day.
“We have no issue in opening up the port at 7:00 a.m., but we need to ensure that there are personnel on duty and that we are able to pay for it,” he said.
“The fee payable is $300.”
By the time the Journal left the port yesterday, Mr. Simmons had agreed to pay the bill.
The truckers, however, were still upset about the time lost and said the company should revise its operating hours to accommodate those in the international arena.