Why import small buses for the Transport Board when the expertise to build them is right here in Barbados?
That is the question the managing director of L&N Workshop Inc, Norman Edwards, is asking on the heels of the announcement by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley that consideration is being given to importing the vehicles for short haul routes, through a local dealership.
He said under a business arrangement between his company and Isuzu of Japan, bus bodies could be manufactured here for both the public and the private transport sectors.
“We have the expertise to do the job. My company currently provides employment for 50 workers and we are encouraged to buy local, yet the minister is thinking about providing jobs for a foreign country,” Edwards told Barbados TODAY during an interview at his company’s Cane Garden, St Thomas headquarters.
“If we are awarded a contract to manufacture buses it automatically means that we would have to employ an additional 25 workers. It must be remembered that this would be in the initial stages, but we may have to employ another ten to 15 workers as the work progresses.”
Explaining that his company has been manufacturing bus bodies for the past five years, Edwards said the regional manager of Isuzu was very impressed by the work done by L&N.
He noted that officials from the Japanese firm visit the company once or twice a year to ensure the high standard is maintained.
“Isuzu has an image to protect and it is worldwide brand . . . . They want to ensure that if a product is going to carry the Isuzu name it must maintain high quality. We have been recommended to build buses throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. We were even asked if we can build left handed buses by Isuzu officials,” Edwards said, adding that his company has also built Isuzu vehicles for the Barbados Water Authority, the Diabetes Association of Barbados and the HIV/AIDS Commission.
Edwards told Barbados TODAY that officials from the Transport Board carried out a test drive of the Isuzu buses and they were impressed with the quality of the vehicles and the workmanship.
He did acknowledge, however, that buses manufactured by his company might have a higher price tag, but gave the assurance it was good value for money.
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