Government is to be applauded for awarding hurricane debris removal contracts to local businesses, a move which not only boosts employment numbers but also stimulates the local economy, said Caribbean Pavement Solutions (CPS), one of the companies tasked with cleaning up the colossal mess Dorian left behind in Abaco. “People tend to bash the government for everything that’s wrong with the nation, but we should also encourage government when it’s on the right path,” said Atario Mitchell, CPS president and an Abaco native. “We want to commend the government for taking a long-term, strategic approach in awarding contracts to locals. There is a collective benefit to the community in hiring Bahamians to assist in disaster recovery work as opposed to hiring a foreign contractor at an inflated price who then subcontracts the work out to a Bahamian company.
Locals not only deliver value for money but also accountability.” CPS has little over a month left to its contract to clean up The Mud, a community which was among the largest shanty towns in the country before Dorian touched down on September 1, upending 40-foot containers, overturning boats and cars, smashing homes to bits and pieces and ripping mature trees from the ground.In the aftermath of the Category 5 storm, CPS, a subsidiary of Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC), faced major obstacles in remaining on schedule and on budget in The Mud. “The company made a capital investment of $1.5 million to execute this project,” Mr Mitchell disclosed Thursday.
“That investment was not only in machinery and supplies but also in lives. Being born and raised in Abaco it was important for me to give my fellow Abaconians a reason to return home. Many of my men lost everything in the hurricane so we literally had to provide some with basic necessities. This was a major, investment, not just from a financial standpoint but also from a humanitarian one.” The company had to establish a man camp, procure and ship heavy duty equipment to the island, and work in a hazardous environment, among other challenges. Still, CPS made significant progress. As the project gathered steam its 42-strong workforce swelled to 72, comprised largely of hurricane evacuees. Their mission is monumental – create the proverbial blank canvas for others to reimagine the space and in doing so, perhaps, pay homage to what and who were washed away in storm surges 20 feet high.
“No international company would be as committed as we are when it comes to restoring Abaco in the wake of the worst natural disaster we have experienced in modern times. As we work to clean up after the storm, we are also helping to rebuild the island’s workforce through numerous direct and indirect employment opportunities which came on stream for hurricane evacuees as a result of Bahamas Striping being awarded this government contract,” said BSGC’s chairman, Dominic Sturrup. “It is very encouraging and empowering to have the government support a young company like ours. As Bahamians, it fills us with a sense of pride. An opportunity like this, a chance to make a very real difference, does not come around every day.” The work might be backbreaking, but it is also spirit lifting. Said Mr Mitchell: “Although Abaco faces a very long road to normalcy, to be on the frontline of recovery efforts provide me and my employees with a sense of optimism about where the island is headed.”