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Japan Mission To Combat Vehicle 'Dumping Ground'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A BAHAMIAN delegation is aiming to prevent this nation from becoming "a dumping ground" for poor-quality used cars through this weekend's mission to Japan.

The mixed public and private sector group, headed by Standards Bureau executives, will assess the pre-export inspection process for used Japanese vehicles as part of efforts to better protect the welfare of Bahamian consumers and the environment.

Dr Renae Ferguson-Bufford, the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality's (BBSQ) director, told Tribune Business that the group was responding to a Japanese invitation about whether this nation wanted pre-inspection services performed on imported used cars.

Dr Ferguson-Bufford, who is heading a delegation that includes the Prime Minister's wife, in her capacity as a Standards Bureau Board member, said the visit would focus on one vehicle testing company, EAA Company Ltd, to determine whether its facilities were compliant with International Standards Organisation (ISO) 1725 certification.

She added EAA Company had reached out to the Bahamas, upon realising this nation was "one of the leading" Japanese used vehicle importers in the Caribbean region, to offer its inspection and testing services.

The Bahamas currently has no way to verify the quality or mileage of used vehicle imports, thereby creating a potential danger to consumer health and safety. Purchasers are often unable to determine whether they are getting 'value for money', and the influx of these automobiles has also been blamed for the numerous wrecks lining the roadside, impacting the environment.

"The whole objective is to see what these inspection facilities are all about," Dr Ferguson-Bufford said of EAA Company. "They found us and realised the Bahamas was one of the leading countries in the Caribbean in terms of car imports, and that we're looking more and more to Japan to bring these vehicles in.

"They know a lot of cars have been dumped, and that there are cars which have been stolen. They want us to ensure we're getting the proper quality of cars which are environmentally friendly and all of that.

"They [EAA] have opened the doors to us to ask if we want to ensure proper inspections, and a proper quality of cars. We want to ensure we're bringing in good quality cars."

Dr Ferguson-Bufford added that the Government, as well as the private sector, wanted to prevent the importation of 'disguised' wrecked vehicles and combat consumer fraud stemming from the 'roll back' of an automobile's mileage to make it appear newer, and less travelled, than it actually is.

She also suggested that the Bahamas needed to revisit the '10 year-old' age limit on imported used vehicles, given that this is one of the most generous thresholds in the region.

"Out of the Caribbean, we're one of the leaders in terms of that window," Dr Ferguson-Bufford told Tribune Business. "It's still 10 years, and the Caribbean is mostly five years. That's something we need to look at as well. Should we up it?"

She added that EAA Company Ltd had also offered to send its personnel to the Bahamas to train government agencies, such as Customs and the Ministry of Transport, in vehicle inspections free of charge.

Edison Sumner, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's (BCCEC) chief executive, said the mission would assess how all parties in the 'used vehicle' business could benefit from a more rigorous pre-import inspection.

Mr Sumner, who will be part of the delegation in his capacity as Standards Bureau vice-chairman, explained: "We're going at the invitation of our counterparts in Japan to have a chance to do some inspections of their vehicle inspection process, their private vehicle auctions, and the process of exporting vehicles from Japan.

"Our interest is the quality of vehicles coming into the Bahamas, looking at roadworthiness, how environmentally friendly they are, and the safety of those vehicles on the streets of the country.

"We just want to ensure we're getting the highest quality of inspections before vehicles are shipped to this country, and that we're getting automobiles that will last for a while and not become a burden on the economy and the environment."

Mr Sumner added that the Bahamas needed to ensure all vehicle imports met certain environmental and emissions standards, and that they conformed to the necessary ISO standards.

"When it comes to the importation of used vehicles, we must be sure we are bringing into the country vehicles to the benefit of those using them; the car dealers, consumers and drivers," he said. "And to be sure we are doing the right thing for Bahamian consumers and business persons, particularly those in the car dealership business."

Fred Albury, the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association's (BMDA) president, told Tribune Business that properly-certified pre-inspections of this nation's used car imports would be a 'win-win' for all parties by providing them with a higher level of protection.

Mr Albury, who will also be part of the week-long mission to Japan, said the idea of pre-inspections was first mulled in 2016 by the former Christie administration and its then-financial secretary, Simon Wilson.

While little progress was made then, Mr Albury said his own research found there were several other Japanese companies besides EAA that performed inspections on the country's used car exports for destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Tanzania.

While Bahamian consumers may have to pay a small sum should this nation engage such inspection services, the BMDA chief suggested that the enhanced consumer, auto dealer and environmental welfare that would result will far outweigh the costs.

"They [the Japanese] do the inspection process to ensure the vehicles are in good condition, to get a good market value and ensure that the mileage is true, because many of the cars coming in have had their mileage rolled back," Mr Albury said.

"It's something the people bringing in will have to pay for, but many of those cars coming in are disposable and go off the road in short order. I think the benefit is going to be from the environmental side of things, as we as a nation need to ensure we're not becoming a dumping ground.

"It's going to step up the quality of the vehicle coming into the country, it's going to have a lot more life, and will enhance the value."

Dr Ferguson-Bufford, who currently chairs CROSQ, the Caribbean regional standards body, said other nations were also interested in accessing pre-export inspection services for Japanese used car imports.

"I spoke to some of the bigger member states, Trinidad and St Lucia, and none of them have this service," she revealed. "All are interested. They want us to go and do it. They're [the Japanese] opening it to the Bahamas first, and others would like to have the same thing.

"Jamaica does pre-inspections and have found it very challenging. They want it done before the vehicle arrives. Once the car's landed, whose to say? It's a challenge they want to get rid of."

Dr Ferguson-Bufford added that more rigorous vehicle import standards also aligned with the Bahamas' renewed efforts to accede to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I have owned 4 Japanese imports and every single one was more than worth it. I could never get the same value buying a used local car or one from the USA. This whole mission is laughable. A delegation from a country with zero standards is going to see if a country with some of the highest standards on earth has standards that are good enough for that lil shitty country that can't even keep their own electricity running for more than 24 hours at a time?!?!?

And we the tax payers are paying for this?!?!?

What a croc of cow dung....

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happyfly 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Japanese imports are popular because there has been a long history of credible imports from that market place......which is more than anyone can say about the local vehicle market place. Is just another example of these small communist minded cartel members trying to prop up their monopolies without addressing the reason why people think it's a better deal to buy a car from a stranger in Japan and ship it half way around the world rather than from a dealer down the street from them

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DreamerX 8 months, 2 weeks ago

They are doing this because the Japanese imports direct by consumers is hurting the big local car dealers.

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sheeprunner12 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Yep ....... the local whites and Conchy Joes who own the dealerships are spitting mad right now ...... this is classic people's power via the internet.

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FreeportFreddy 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the racist comment!

WHY would this be about race???

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BahamasForBahamians 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Watch this issue closely. It is way more political than it appears from the surface. The current administration is closely tied and has an interest in the commercial banks and car lots that would prefer Bahamians go to a bank and take out a $50,000 loan to afford a car. The more affordable Japanese options threaten the millions of dollars profits they could realize if they eliminate this Asian competitor.

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avidreader 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Sure enough, keep your eyes on this one and notice carefully the names of the members of the delegation. If they can cut off this line of supply or at the very least make it more difficult to import used vehicles from Japan they will be able to say "mission accomplished". Whether or not they can force the general public to sign up for one of those $50,000 new cars is another matter. They are fully aware that the Japanese government is very careful about "lemons" being exported since such occurrences hurt the reputation of their entire, very large, auto industry. As the man said, "I smell a rat".

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OldFort2012 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. And there is very little but stupidity spoken in the Bahamas, so this one really will take some beating.

Tough not to be with proudloudandfnm on this one.

"Dr." Ferguson-Buffoon more like.

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JohnDoe 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Dis what the "Peoples Time" look like I guess. It is more like the rich _ _ _ peoples time all over again with a vengeance. Less than 1% already control 90% of the wealth in this country and they still cry like little babies at even the hint of competition. This is nothing but a very transparent ruse to cater to these guys trying to sell economy cars for $50K that will cost more to repair in year two than an entire Japanese car that would last you 5 years maintenance free. It is this self-interest corrupting culture that is constantly pandering to the privileged class or those willing to pay that has this country where it is today.

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John 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Well if y’all who have posted above know the seriousness of dumping and disposing of obsolete products or products that are near to the end of their life cycle you can see this is a serious matter. With vehicles just ride pass Strachans on Soldier Road or Roberts on Joe Farrington Road to see the number of vehicles that have to be crushed and exported every week or month. So of someone I’d payiua thousand or more to bring a vehicle here that has less than two years useful life, then it has to be crushed and shipped out then where is the benefit? A few years ago it was a common practice for large American Corporations to donate their used (and near obsolete) computers to schools and civic organizations in the Caribbean. Come to find out the real reason behind this was it was easier to donate and export these computers than it was to dump them. And with Japanese vehicles selling for as low as $25.00 (yes twenty five dollars) a standard has to be set. Especially since parts are no longer available for vehicles after a certain year. The Bahamas cannot afford to be a dumping ground. And eventually standards have to be set for all majors appliances as well.

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JohnDoe 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Strachans and Roberts had those cars piled high from I was a little boy and they were American cars. They have nothing to do with what is being discussed above,

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Bahaman17 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is to certify the mileage and the value. 98% of the cars coming from Japan are cleared with fake invoicing (which affect Govt revenue) and with the mileage turned back (which hurts consumers). I don't see where it states they will stop allow Japanese used cars....

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TheMadHatter 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is so funny. How about instead looking into why certain "reputable" dealers in Nassau sell FORD vehicles made at the Ford plant in Brazil for which you cannot obtain parts in Miami.

No. The US parts do not fit on the Brazil manufactured Ford cars. The VIN numbers do not even show up in the database at Pep Boys.

There is a reason the Government likes importing FOREIGN TEACHERS to produce "D Average" students. They grow up to be nice little dumb adult slaves.

Bahamians keep paying their church tithes and belly swellin. These days, you would have to go as far as the cocoa fields of western Africa to find a better herd of sheep.

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

As a member of The Bahamas Motor Dealers Association I am not aware of any relationship with Government that works to our advantage. They are in my view a detriment. In fact as a business we are very highly taxed and regulated. My personal position is if people want to buy Japanese vehicles online it is there money. I certainly oppose people operating a used car business without being subject to the same laws, taxes and regulations the BMDA members face. Just as a matter of information, a new vehicle that lists at $46,982 the government receives approximately $17,488.75 in taxes ($13,797.20 duty, $3,104.65 VAT and $586.90 Business License Tax). Maybe this is why the government would want people to buy new cars. If someone is operating a used car/parts business they should comply with the same regulations and taxes the BMDA membership face. Unless the government is willing to allow us to operate outside the law.

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JohnDoe 8 months, 2 weeks ago

With all due respect Mr. Lowe I find your reasoning unpersuasive. Every car that is imported into this country pays duties, VAT and import fees according to the prescribes fees and tax schedules as outlined in the law. Therefore, just because a person is importing a car of a lesser value it is absolutely incorrect to say that they are operating outside the law because they are paying the same proportionate taxes and fees as the fool that imports the overvalued car that cannot be sold in the USA.

Further, I am sure you have heard of the economic concept of elasticity of demand which states that for elastic goods,the lower the price of a good the greater the volume of that good demanded and sold. Therefore, whereas one person may be able to afford an overvalued car at $46K, there is likely to be 15 persons that can afford a car at $5K. The obvious impact will be a much higher tax revenue receipt component for the government. We may be poor but we ain't stupid!

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you Mr. Doe. Are you sure every car imported into the country pays the correct duty/import taxes? I was suggesting people importing cars for resale are acting outside the law. Not individuals importing for their own use. Sorry for the confusion. Can right hand drive imports be sold in the USA? I would prefer to sell US spec'd cars but like hundreds of other countries around the world our laws do not require that. I absolutely agree that not everyone can afford a new car and I have no issue with individuals spending their money how they wish. My issue is with unlicensed used car businesses selling by the road side. Can we display our cars on the side of the highway with a cell to call to purchase? I am not sure I agree that government revenue has increased as a result of imports of used cars from Japan at their low average invoice amount. That would be an interesting stat to confirm.

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

For example the car above brought almost $14,000 of duty. 15 used Japanese imports at $1,000 would pay $650 each for a total of $9,750. So one new car pays more than 15 used cars. Of course these are just back of the envelope numbers, so could vary, but I think you get the point.

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JohnDoe 8 months, 2 weeks ago

No I don't and are you kidding me. You really think we daft hey. The figures that I used was $5K at 15 persons and not $1K. This is important because at $1K, I suspect, more than 35 to 50 persons would be able to afford a car at $1K as opposed to $46K. Elasticity of demand, remember, and that is just the obvious. Therefore, in addition to your premise being factually incorrect, there are several other more fundamental economic and social reasons why your reasoning and approach is sub-optimal to the benefit of society as a whole not only in respect to taxation but also spending, the multiplier effect, job creation, no added future credit repayment burden and the related GDP growth impact. I have nothing against the new car dealers but this fact scenario has all the markings of a breakthrough market event that moves the entire Demand and Supply curves Mr. Lowe and you should know what that means even though it may be painful to accept. I am a believer in free market forces and competition that benefits the consumers and ultimately society as a whole, not a few merchants.

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

No I don't think you are daft. You are obviously bright, but most used car imports from Japan are valued at $1,000 or less are they not? No the $5,000 you indicated. As I have stated over and over in this thread, people have every right to spend their money how they wish. However, If you are operating a used car business, i.e. selling Japanese used cars by the side of the road, you should have to meet the same legal requirements BMDA members do. If not, you are breaking the law, and if the law is reasonable it should be upheld. Shouldn't it? You seem to be pretending that the government is banning used car imports from Japan by individuals. Do you have some inside information that this is the case?

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JohnDoe 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I applaud you sir for the willingness to have an open dialogue about this issue. In a civilized society there will be disagreement but transparent dialogue with open minds is extremely important to optimizing the collective benefits to society on any contentious issue.

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

My pleasure and thank you too. Not so much in your case but I just wish these discussions could centre more on facts than conjecture and name calling.

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Franklyn 8 months, 2 weeks ago

for me as a "smart businessman" and seeing the direction the market was headed ...I would be the biggest importer of quality (used) cars from Japan ...stocking hundreds in one shipment; making it easier for Bahamian buyers to walk in and drive out with a reliable means of transportation ...but some in the industry are held up on brand name recognition and brand territorial trickery, which actually worked against them over the years. It is my view that you can’t force a government into a position of selective protectionism when we operate in a free economic trade system. Bad business models (or those that fail to adjust) is a reflection of their business management skills and should be a concern for board members. the public should not be forced to adjust its buying preference to appease the bottom-line of a few businesses.

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avidreader 8 months, 2 weeks ago

How about looking more closely into those flood and accident-damaged and stolen vehicles exported from the U.S. to The Bahamas over the years? Many a vehicle has arrived here after having been washed away down some river valley or submerged by a tidal surge generated by a hurricane. At least the Japanese claim to check their export vehicles for traces of radiation, especially after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster of a few years ago. No vehicle can last forever but check Consumer Reports or other reputable ratings agencies and see for yourself that the reliability of the major Japanese brands are always at the top of the list. For heaven's sake don't by a Jeep, Fiat or a Chrysler!

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birdiestrachan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

truth is they do not want the poor to have any cars. The rich folks want to sell their cars and the banks will charge high interest. it is a no win for poor people. A 10 year old car or even a 12 year old car can very well be in better condition than a 2016 car. it depends on the previous owner. It is a free Country person should have free choices

Many will rue the day they voted FNM . It is the rich people's time.

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Sickened 8 months, 2 weeks ago

You mean like under the PLP when the super rich number's criminals and the rich minister's all got their time - while the rest of the country collapsed?

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The_Oracle 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually I see Japan being pro-active and ahead of the curve, in that they know damn well we have no clue but could decide to ban/bar imports of their used vehicles for whatever idiotic reason we might come up with, including but not limited to special interests. Dealers are taking a hit, but still have to stock parts and support vehicles they sell. Pay mechanics, staff, The importer sells "as is where is" BTW, Jap vehicles have to be removed from their (Jap) roads once a certain age is attained. Is it 2 years? maybe 5? in any case I wonder how many glow in the dark? Tsunami flooded? We are so slack and dense......

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birdiestrachan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Rick should be on this trip.. Persons can buy their Japanese cars direct from the Country; The Government is looking out for their rich donors. Never mind Bains Town roc wit doc will soon be there to give you folks a piece of cake.

The rich will get richer and the poor who cares??

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually I think the Government is looking out for their revenue. I agree that people should be able to spend their money as they wish, but I do not agree that individuals should be able to operate a business in Japanese used cars and avoid the law, taxes and regulations like price control. Or I should be able to avoid the law as well. In other words the law should be equally applied. It does no good for the auto industry to go out of business either losing hundreds of good jobs. We attempted this business for a brief period and found all of the odometers were turned back by about 50% this was after telling them we did not want the mileage turned back. We were also asked if we wanted fictitious invoices which we of course declined. I wonder how the government would react if we used the side of the highway to display our cars for sale? Would we be removed? Would we be checked for a business license? Would we be checked for VAT collection? None of this is easy on any of us. Businesses or individuals.

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birdiestrachan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

What Rick does not know because he has never walked in the shoes of the poor is that most Bahamians can not afford a 46 thousand dollars car. They buy the Japanese cars because it is what they can afford. There was a time when Mr: Minnis wife was in that same state. But now they are flying high, they have forgotten the poor people who voted for her husband and the FNM Government.

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RickLoweBahamas 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I understand that not everyone can afford a $46,000 car and buy used Japanese imports because they can afford them. That was only an example of the taxes paid. However, there are also new cars for much less than that as well. And clients get a warranty etc.

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birdiestrachan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Bufford can sure spin a tale. she is only concerned about the rich merchants and the banks it is to bad Summer has joined in with this affront to the poor. I wonder why I thought better of him?

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sheeprunner12 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a good exchange between a real life car dealer and the public ........ such good PR, Mr. Lowe ............ But dealers' cars are far too expensive for ordinary Bahamians who must scrounge off less than 20K salaries per year ........... Most quality dealership vehicles are well over 30K and when you finance that car, that becomes a mortgage payment (in fact) ......... The thirst for personal cars has led us to this ........ No decent public busing, and need for tax revenue.

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ThisIsOurs 8 months, 2 weeks ago

"Ferguson-Bufford, who is heading a delegation that includes the Prime Minister's wife, in her capacity as a Standard bureau board member"

You really have to wonder what thought goes into these board appointments and delegations. Do any of these people know anything about standards in the automobile industry? What does the Bahamas gain by paying their airfare and accommodations to Japan?

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jackbnimble 8 months, 2 weeks ago

'Office of the Spouse' in action. ;-)

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Porcupine 8 months, 2 weeks ago

We are going to spend taxpayers money for this foolish trip. The best value for our money would be to use these thousands of dollars we will spend sending these "delegates" on a vacation, instead teaching Bahamians to maintain their cars and to learn how to drive. The cars that come form Japan would have many more years of life in them if we took care of them and drove responsibly. It is no mystery why a brand new boat that comes into The Bahamas will look like shit and won't run after a few months. Same with cars. It just seems like we just don't care about taking care of our tings. Move on to something that doesn't continue to cost taxpayers, even more money.

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sheeprunner12 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Has anyone told the Government that the Japanese auto-makers produce the best, cost-efficient cars in the world??????? ............ We need to be more concerned about other brands.

Especially those where we cannot find affordable replacement parts or local repair mechanics.

Who can really pay to find or have a high-end European or British car serviced or repaired in The Bahamas?????? .......... So, it makes little sense to go out and buy a Saab or Audi - if you do not have a deep pocket.

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Franklyn 8 months, 2 weeks ago

why are we being ignored!!!

Bahamian Proposal To Provide Annual inspections of all motor vehicles (from Japan, US and Europe) to ensure roadworthiness during the life of the car while being used on the streets of the Bahamas ...can someone tell me why?

Our comprehensive inspection proposal which would create 300 plus jobs for Bahamians at no cost to the Government. And increase revenue in this sector by 30%

Being ignored by: 1. This News Paper (The Tribune My Former Employers) and Mr NEIL HARTNELL who don't return calls or keep meetings. 2. The Former Perry Christie Government (Glenys Hanna Martin, who kept guess from MAHA/UTSCH Germany, waiting for 4-hours only to say she could not meet with them. - 2014 3. Ross Smith - who can never give a straight answer related to the status of our proposal. 2014 - 2017 4. Brensil Roll - who received confidential company documents prior to the May 2017 elections - only to be told the documents cannot be located. 2017 - Present 5. Frankie Campbell - who also received copies of the Vehicle Inspection Proposal as the New Minister of Transport, but I am yet to receive an acknowledgement of receipt of the proposal or a response. 2017 - Present 6. Ms Sandra Knowles - Board Member (Transport) who received copies of the Inspection Proposal - Pending receipt of a response, do not return calls or messages. 2017 - Present

But what I can hear is this Government's efforts to find remedies to problems in foreign lands when a comprehensive fix to a list of roadworthiness problems, exist - and its totally BAHAMIAN AND IT COMES WITH JOBS! 300 PLUS of THEM

Why are we being ignored?

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