Arawak Cement Company is to begin work next month on a concrete road in a bid to convince Government to move away from asphalt to concrete surfaces.
General Manager Manuel Toro said the company would construct 200 to 300 metres of road leading to its Checker Hall, St Lucy plant.
“We expect to start building that road next month. It is going to be a pilot just to test the condition of the road, the life cycle of the road, the cost compared with the other alternatives, and then we will communicate that to the authorities and the Government to see that this is possible to do,” the cement company boss told Barbados TODAY.
Toro said Arawak Cement had discussed the subject with Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, who offered to have the ministry work closely with the cement company on the project.
He said tenders would go out shortly inviting bids from local contractors, some of whom had been trained last year in Nicaragua and Panama at the facilities of Arawak’s new owner, CEMEX.
Engineers say concrete pavements are typically stronger, more durable and more environmentally friendly than asphalt roadways, and can also be grooved to provide durable skid-resistant surfaces.
However, they have a higher initial cost, and can be more time-consuming to construct, which is why countries prefer to use asphalt, the experts say.
However, Arawak Cement wants to push Barbados towards concrete, as part of the company’s strategy to expand its market share, Toro explained.
“We see a big opportunity there. I think if the plan is to bring more tourism . . . that tourism will need infrastructure, and adequate infrastructure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Toro revealed that the cement company had entered into cooperation agreements with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polyclinic and the Barbados Community College to source fresh technical talent.
As part of the agreement, at least ten students studying to become mechanics, electricians and welders will receive six-month internship at the plant.
Toro also assured that there were no immediate plans to further restructure the local firm, which went through a successful voluntary separation package last year.
The new general manager renewed Arawak’s commitment to Barbados, saying the company had a bright future here.
“We want to contribute to that future. Not only generating employment and payment of taxes . . . also bringing in foreign exchange . . . . Now we want to expand our business lines because we believe that we have the technology to add to the local industry, especially in concrete and concrete grouts. That’s our target and we are thinking about that,” Toro declared.