The two mechanics at The Bay Grazettes workshop centre have praised the new garages as the perfect fit for their work demands as a state agency moves to get roadside mechanics to clean up their act.
However, the agency’s efforts to bring an end to a nationwide tradition – where the price of convenient car repair is roads clogged with broken-down vehicles, oil and chemical spills, noxious fumes and noise amid surrounding homes – could be facing an uphill battle, if one roadside mechanic’s view proves to be more widespread.
The mechanic said the existing renting fees and opening hours limits were too high for him to come off the streets and into the purpose-built facilities in an industrial park which he said was “not my speed”.
On a visit to the new facility on Tuesday, which was built by Export Barbados (BIDC) at Grazettes Industrial Estate to provide roadside mechanics with a commercial space, Barbados TODAY found two occupants. They said the new location has proven to be a great change in the environment for their workflow.
“It’s a far cry from where I used to work before, and a lot of customers really appreciate and like the environment,” said Jefferson Bovell, a 42-year veteran in automotive electronics. “Sometimes a customer, when they bring a vehicle to be repaired, one of their main concerns is the security and protection of that vehicle, and this facility can definitely offer that.”
He added: “I first found out about it when it was launched over the media when they said they are coming up with the idea to build these facilities for mechanics and stuff like that who need a solid base and somewhere secure to work. That created my interest, and I was always calling to find out the progress and how things are going, and availability [for] tenants to move in.
“It’s a very nice facility, but I view it as kind of a pilot project where sometimes when you look around there are small improvements that can be made, probably going forward in other facilities that are being built. I understand they plan to build quite a few around the whole island.”
Bovell did not disclose the current rental fees for using his bay but said the amount was reasonable.
“It is a fair price for what you are getting from the facility,” he said. “You must bear in mind what you are getting and what can be achieved by having this facility to work in.”
When asked about his customers’ impression of the new surroundings so far, Bovell said that they, too, felt the change was a step in the right direction.
Tigana Yarde, a mechanic for 25 years who revealed that Bovell persuaded him to get involved in the project, reported steady business and impressed customers at the new site.
“When I saw the facility it looked very beautiful, and it was close to home, so I could appreciate that,” he told Barbados TODAY. “Customers can still get by me. Each customer that came was very impressed. It’s [comfortable] with the security, it’s nice. I would encourage others, fellow mechanics to come through.”
But a stone’s throw away from the estate, Dale Knights, a mechanic who has worked in Fairfield, Black Rock for the last two decades, said that while he supported the idea of the site because it would help eliminate the number of cars in small communities where some mechanics operate, the opening hours and rental price did not appeal to him.
“You can’t work after certain hours, that ain’t my speed,” he said. “Only body that lives here is me and my daughter, my five children, so I work ’til I feel like stopping. If the government wants to do something for me, all I am asking for is land, a spot. I was working now for 20 years, I am 57, I can’t rent from nobody now. If the cost had dropped I would go, but still, I work till I feel tired. Sometimes I work till 12 o’clock, that is me. Yes, I am glad for the prime minister . . . helping everybody but I don’t want to [go there].”
Yarde said he was offered a spot for $1 500 per month which was out of his budget. He expressed optimism that he might be allocated a plot of land closer to his house, where he could work more flexible hours.
“Sometimes I make [the $1 500] a week, sometimes I don’t make it for two and three weeks. But I am one of these men, what you don’t got, you do without,” he declared. “All I care about is a spot. If I can find a spot down in here for me, I am willing. Up [Grazettes Industrial Park] is not my speed….”
Export Barbados said the Grazettes facility is currently functioning as a pilot programme and the information and experience gathered from this initial cluster will be used as a blueprint for building similar facilities throughout the island.
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