Following a meeting held with local truckers earlier today, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced the establishment of a committee to propose rates which are “fair and reasonable” for the services offered by those in the industry.
The committee will also be tasked with conducting an audit of available trucks and capacity in Dominica.
Earlier this week, members of the Tipper Truckers Association of Dominica (TTAD), as well as other local truckers lined up their vehicles for a six-hours under the Canefield cliff, to “peacefully raise awareness” of what they say is the non-inclusion of local truckers in the construction of major projects on the island. There was no attempt to impede traffic.
Calling on the government to intervene, President of the TTAD Anton Laville, expressed the association’s disappointment over what he labelled as a “collapsed” industry and said local truckers are doing everything to have this issue resolved amicably.
While announcing that he had met with a number of local truckers this morning- Nov. 18- at the Goodwill Parish Hall, Skerrit stated that he assured the truckers that his government was sympathetic to their plight and gave his commitment to addressing their concerns in an “expeditious” manner.
To address their concerns in a “prudent and systematic way,” the head of government disclosed his recommendation for the establishment of the proposed rate committee as he says that the government is committed to securing “fair and livable rate” for the services offered.
“I believe we need the services of a professional body of analysts to inform our discussions. We need to determine what is a fair and reasonable rate for trucking in Dominica. Given all the factors that you so aptly articulated two days ago, I know that there’s the cost of trucks, the cost of petrol, the cost of insurance, the wear and tear on your vehicles, and the cost of labour, and the list goes on,” Skerrit stated. “I wish to propose that we agree to a formula whereby we not only sit with contractors and request a rate, but that we secure the services of a professional group of analysts to determine and influence the rate that is reasonable, and which you should all request.”
According to the Prime Minister, when such rate is determined, the government will seek to use its influence to get contracting firms to honour and factor it into their calculations.
“I do not believe anyone is seeking to rip off points or exploit anyone. I believe the availability of irrefutable evidence and information would shed new light on this situation. If x rate is determined as the minimum livable rate for truckers in Dominica, then x rate is what the government shall propose to contracting firms as the baseline for trucking services going forward,” he said.
To address their concerns sectorally as opposed to individually, Skerrit also suggested that a working committee under the chairmanship of the Minister of Public Works and comprising representatives of the truckers association, the local contractors association or grouping, representatives of two of the larger foreign owned contracting firms on Dominica and an internationally recognized and respected agency, be established. He said his government would bear the cost of retaining their services of the members of that committee.
“I would want for this committee to commence deliberations as early as Monday the 22nd of November 2021 and to have a report containing firm recommendations presented to me as chairman of the cabinet by December 15 of this year. In this way, It is my hope that before Christmas, the government can and would be in a position to announce a new formula for determining the rate of pay of truckers in Dominica and we can also discuss whether we would like those rates to be legislated,” he further added.
The Prime Minister has also requested that the committee conduct an audit of available vehicles and capacity in Dominica to guide his government’s granting of permission to contracting firms to import vehicles or labour into the country.
“In other words, that which can be sourced in Dominica at nationally agreed upon rates and terms must, come January 1, be embraced and exhausted before permission is granted for the short term importation of comparable vehicles into our country,” he declared. “And if such vehicles are deemed necessary for importation, then they would have to be exported on completion of a particular project, or offered for sale at market rates to Dominican owned companies and Dominican citizens.”
In an attempt to return “viability and profitability” to the trucking sector in Dominica, Skerrit has also requested that the truckers as an association, submit to him, a proposal for consideration for a special regime of concessions to help improve on their fleet and the quality of their vehicles to offer something similar to what was done for those in the tourism sector.
Other government officials in attendance included Minister for Public Works and the Digital Economy, Cassanni Laville; Minister for National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmoore; Minister for Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiative, Denise Charles and Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Public Works, Mr. Emile Lancelot.