Truck­ers protest new Har­bour Bridge time re­stric­tion

-man­age­ment blames time change on speed­ing

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS - By Mariah Lall

A group of sand truck drivers from the West Bank of De­mer­ara are dis­con­tent with the sud­den re­in­sti­tu­tion of a time re­stric­tion for their use of the De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge (DHB).

The group, which con­sists of 15 truck­ers, on Fri­day met with at­tor­ney Anil Nand­lall, who has since un­der­taken to help them.

Ac­cord­ing to Nand­lall, who spoke on their be­half, on Thurs­day the truck­ers were in­formed by the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) of the De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge Cor­po­ra­tion Rawl­ston Adams, that on Novem­ber 30th, 2018, with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, they would only be al­lowed to cross the bridge be­tween the hours of 6 am and 6 pm.

Nand­lall fur­ther noted that though many at­tempts were made to es­tab­lish from the CEO the rea­son for the sud­den change, they were un­suc­cess­ful.

“One would have thought that one of the main rea­son[s] would have been to avoid a traf­fic con­ges­tion at cer­tain peak hours but by con­fin­ing them from 6 am to 6 pm, they are ac­tu­ally putting the trucks in the traf­fic at a point in time when traf­fic is at its high­est,” the at­tor­ney said.

“With­out giv­ing rea­sons, one can’t ra­tio­nal­ize why the change of de­ci­sion; these truck drivers pay some of the high­est rates for road li­cense—$45,000 per year. Many of them owe the banks and owe truck deal­ers be­cause they bought their trucks on credit, then they have porters to pay and other ex­penses and then they do this. All of them al­most are the sole bread­win­ners of their fam­ily,” he added.

How­ever, Adams, when con­tacted, ex­plained that the truck drivers were en­gaged in 2016 af­ter they raised sim­i­lar com­plaints, and re­called that a de­ci­sion was made to ex­tend the hours from the ini­tial 6 am to 6 pm times­lot to 3 am to 6 pm, on the con­di­tion that they avoid speed­ing while us­ing the bridge.

He fur­ther re­lated that the de­ci­sion to rein­tro­duce the 6 am to 6 pm sched­ule fol­lows a re­view which shows that the drivers are still speed­ing dur­ing the early morn­ing hours, which he says puts fur­ther strain on the bridge.

Not­with­stand­ing, Adams said he is pre­pared to en­gage the truck drivers to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

Mean­while, Stabroek News un­der­stands that in ad­di­tion to their re­stricted ac­cess to the De­mer­ara Har­bour Bridge, truck­ers are also af­fected by the de­ci­sion of the traf­fic of­fi­cers to ground them un­til a cer­tain hour.

“In ad­di­tion to this sig­nif­i­cant 6 to 6 regime that they are now con­fined to, on the west­ern end of the De­mer­ara River, the po­lice are ask­ing them to park on the road in the vicin­ity of Par­fait Har­mony High­way to al­low traf­fic to pass be­tween the hours of 6 [and] 9; when they come across the river, an­other set of po­lice at Hope on the East Bank are ask­ing them to park from 7 to 9,” Nand­lall noted.

“When you take all of this into ac­count, you are barely able to make one or two trips max­i­mum per day and they are say­ing that that is ab­so­lutely un­eco­nom­i­cal for them to sus­tain the busi­ness that they are in,” he fur­ther lamented.

Truck driver and owner Zahir Sat­taur told this news­pa­per that the truck­ers would ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to work freely.

“My con­cern is that we want to get a chance to work freely so that we can earn and be able to pro­vide for our fam­i­lies; the fi­nan­cial strain based on the re­stric­tion of the Har­bour Bridge we are not able to work, we are not able to pro­vide for our fam­i­lies,” Sat­taur said.

“Right now I owe in­stall­ments for my truck. The deal­ers are call­ing me but I can’t find it be­cause of this re­stric­tion that they are putting on us. It’s been a very long time that we have been stop­ping on the East Bank; since 2009 be­fore the four lane road, we’ve been stop­ping on the East Bank Road. They promised that when the four lane road fin­ish, ev­ery­thing will come back to nor­malcy but it never changed, it re­mained the same. All we ask­ing is that we have some changes so we would able to work free and earn an hon­est dol­lar to look af­ter our fam­i­lies,” he added.

“You see when you get to work in the night, you can sleep in the day and be off the road and we can save fuel but…all these re­stric­tions are con­tribut­ing to fa­tal ac­ci­dents be­cause when we be­hind time we have to push the mo­tor lor­ries to get the work done,” an­other driver com­mented.

Ac­cord­ing to Nand­lall, the truck­ers are open to hav­ing dis­cus­sions with the CEO so that they will be able to es­tab­lish a sched­ule that is ac­cept­able to the par­ties in­volved.

“What­ever the rea­son, the Har­bour Bridge has to reg­u­late their cross­ing, they are pre­pared to sit with the Har­bour Bridge and work out a sched­ule in a con­sen­sual man­ner that makes sense and would ben­e­fit the in­ter­est of the bridge, other users of the road and also ben­e­fit­ing them. But it can­not be a uni­lat­eral im­po­si­tion of con­di­tions with­out any con­sul­ta­tion with them and to put them at se­vere jeop­ardy,” Nand­lall said.

Not­with­stand­ing, the at­tor­ney re­lated that a let­ter will be dis­patched on be­half of the truck­ers to Adams and the com­pany re­quest­ing both an ex­pla­na­tion for the de­ci­sion, as well as a meet­ing to al­low for an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion to what he says in an ab­so­lutely un­nec­es­sary dis­pute.

At­tor­ney Anil Nand­lall (at right) en­gag­ing frus­trated truck­ers on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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