Flooding the market? At present there are 34 companies that hold permits to operate 45 water trucks. There is scope to maximise business by upgrading to a double-loader truck without compromising an existing permit. *File photo
Flooding the market? At present there are 34 companies that hold permits to operate 45 water trucks. There is scope to maximise business by upgrading to a double-loader truck without compromising an existing permit. *File photo

FRIDAY, FEB. 3: Bermuda’s water truckers are set to meet after Government announced a moratorium on new permits.

On Monday, Transport Minister Derrick Burgess said the industry will be carefully monitored over the next three years as the economic downturn and technological advances have impacted the water truckers.

Russ Ford, vice-president of the Bermuda Water Truckers Association and owner of Bermuda Water Services, said: “This has been debated for quite a few years now.”

He said a special meeting would be held at which the water truckers will give their feedback on the moratorium.

“This is great that the current Minister moved forward on this.”

Mr Ford said he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the association, but he believed the current dealers need to be protected while balancing the needs of Bermuda residents.

Ford said while there are 34 companies that hold permits to operate 45 water trucks. Those 45 trucks can together deliver 59,500 gallons in one trip. There are 13 trucks which carry 2,000-gallon loads and one truck which carries a 2,500-gallon load, with the rest carrying a 1,000-gallon load.

Ford said: “There has never been an issue with the number of trucks on the road; our challenge has always been the availability of water. During a shortage, it’s Government who shuts down — not the dealers.”

He said that while it’s never been a problem with other people wanting to get into the water trucking business “but at this point and time, with the current economic climate, we want to be able to solidify our industry to make sure it remains viable.

“It’s already competitive, but we don’t want to increase the competitiveness that’s going to force existing permit holders out of business.”

He said this moratorium would help them preserve their business.

Mr Ford said an example of where a business has not been protected is with the general truckers and their complaints against larger tractor trailers being allowed to carry extra loads.

“They had the issues with the dumpsters, and as a result of that there’s been a number of those truckers who have gone out of business because they can’t compete with a dumpster.”

He said the water dealers would like to maintain “healthy competition, but at the same time don’t want to flood the market”.

Mr Ford said his company has two trucks and if he wanted to maximize his business, he would need to get double-loaders so he can deliver twice as many loads in the same time.

“That way I’m not increasing the number of permits, I’m just increasing my capacity.”

Lost business

Mr Ford added most of the truckers have lost business to Watlington Water Works as that company expanded its network.

He said there are occasions when a Watlington customer may have to order from a water truck, but that’s mostly due to an emergency situation when a water main breaks.

He said that people leaving the island has had an effect on the water trucking business as they are less customers to deliver water to.

“I can’t say how much an impact that has been for other companies, but from my perspective, it hasn’t been that significant. I’m just one company, but I’m sure there are other companies who may have had to rely on people in those arenas. They would be impacted more.

“We’ve had people who have gone on pipeline who used to have regular water dealers come to them, but we no longer have their business. That has had a more crucial impact.

“Areas like Cedar Hill or Spring Hill and the West End, when those customers come on line. We knew that was going to have an impact, but at the end of the day you have to balance out what are the needs of the country.”