Investment in men and machines show confidence in the economy
Caribbean Pavement Solutions’ (CPS) planning, design and execution of Exuma’s road improvement project may be every bit as significant as the construction of the 10 miles of roadworks itself.
For the undertaking, CPS unveiled its new $1 million mobile asphalt manufacturing plant which can be assembled on site and just as swiftly disassembled for transport to another island.
This is believed to be the first time such innovation has been utilized on a government road construction project in Exuma where much of the infrastructure on the island has gone beyond the 15-year lifespan for roads.
Once successfully completed this project – rolled out during a pandemic – could provide the blueprint for others CPS road development jobs, becoming the model for how the company goes about rebuilding roads across the nation in a more efficient and cost-effective fashion.
“An important element to all of this is the Exuma labor force,” said Atario Mitchell, president of CPS, a subsidiary of the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC).
“We are currently conducting a manpower audit to determine what skillsets are available in Exuma to meet our needs. We are not only hiring locals to work on the road. For example, we have brought on three security guards and we are looking for two more mechanic apprentices. We already have one apprentice from the island. At the height of this project, we expect to employ 50 workers with most of our hires being persons who come from Exuma or they’re living here.”
Investing in Bahamians and machines is indicative of the company’s confidence in the local economy, according to Dominic Sturrup, BSGC’s executive chairman.
“We have not done anything like this before in our 10-year history. This is the single, largest investment our company has made since we’ve been in business. This is an example of what Bahamians can do when given an opportunity,” said Mr Sturrup.
“We are sure that Charles Maynard [the former Minister of State for Youth, Sports & Culture] is looking down from Heaven, smiling and proud to see a program that started under his watch with a $5,000 grant from the government, now managing and executing a multi-million-dollar road improvement project in Exuma.”
The company, he said, is committed to using state-of-the-art technology to meet both public and private sector demand for high-quality, long-lasting roads throughout the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
CPS latest acquisition, a 120-foot machinery, was towed – section by section – to its home site at the former Navy base in George Town on Sunday, November 8.
In advance of the plant’s September arrival, the Exuma-based Cox Construction company erected the necessary concrete base and loading ramps. It also constructed a mechanic shop and the security booth. S&G Construction installed the ground’s perimeter fencing.
Two more contracts are set to be issued next week for the plant’s electrical and plumbing works. Gas line hook ups must also be put in place before factory technician arrive to calibrate, test and commission the plant later this month. Once it is officially up and running in early December, CPS will be able to produce up to 110 tons of asphalt per hour.
“This is an internationally certified asphalt production plant which meets the United States’ environmental regulations and the highest international standard in terms of safety,” said Dr Allen Albury, CPS’ managing director.
Adjacent to the plant is CPS’ laydown yard for its fleet. It consists of over 40 pieces of heavy equipment ranging from road pavement machines, graders and rollers to dump trucks and excavators. From the onsite mechanic shop, a master-level mechanic and his three apprentices will implement a comprehensive preventative maintenance program to minimize downtime or delays.
“By any stretch of the imagination this was a large undertaking involving engineers, topographers, safety officers and lab technicians for asphalt quality control, among other professionals. It was a huge process,” said Dr Albury.
The company’s goal is to complete one to two miles of asphalt before Christmas.
The Exuma road improvement contract is the second major project the company has undertaken in recent times. Last year, the company cleaned up The Mud shantytown following Hurricane Dorian, with a workforce comprised mostly of Abaconians.
Tosheena Robinson-Blair, B.Sc., M.Sc.
Founder, Precision Media