By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A BAHAMIAN businessman said yesterday that reversing the traffic flow in the Baillou Hill Road area would help businesses see their sales return, telling Tribune Business he was currently only getting about 60 per cent of his original business.
Arnold Heastie, proprietor of Heastie’s Esso Service Station, told Tribune Business he would welcome any plan by the Government that would help to increase sales for businesses in the area.
“I believe that if the roads are turned back to how they were originally, businesses would begin to get their sales back. Right now I’m only getting about 60 per cent of my previous business because of the roads. If it is turned back, my businesses would probably go back to 100 per cent,” said Mr Heastie.
The Coconut Grove Business League (CGBL) has been lobbying to reverse a flow that currently sees traffic on Baillou Hill Road go one-way northbound, and on Market Street one-way south-bound
But to-date the Government’s relief for businesses impacted by the New Providence Road Improvement Project is said to be capped at $15 million in total, and include an 18-month discount on electricity bills, credit on customs duties, financing from the Bahamas Development Bank and relief on real property tax and business licenses for six months.
Mr Heastie added: “The Government has to look at this situation seriously. What we need here is business; we need to be able to grow our businesses.
“I for one am not satisfied with this sort of ‘take it or leave it, that’s all we can afford’ situation we see now. I understand that the Government is short on cash but we can’t be doing the same old thing.
“What good is a break on business licenses, for instance, if people have absolutely no business. They don’t seem to understand that there are a lot of small businesses here. I will welcome the part of the plan that increases our sales, and I will tell you that’s the good part. What the Government is offering is a bone, take it or leave it, but even dogs need meat on the bone.”
Many in the Coconut Grove Business League believe the offer is nowhere near sufficient to compensate its more than 50 members for losses - previously estimated at $30-$40 million - said to have been caused by the roads project.
The Government, however, is in a tight spot financially with little room to work with.
The CBGL, a group of some 50 companies, took their fight against the Government to court and secured a victory in the Supreme Court over the road changes, only to see that decision overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Superwash president Dionisio D’Aguilar, who saw five of his laundromat locations impacted by road works, urged businesses to accept the compensation being offered, noting that the Government will “never make right what they did wrong” with the New Providence Road Improvement Project.