Truck drivers mostly ‘Type A’

Upgraded driver license opens doors

By Dennis Fujimoto – The Garden Island

PUHI n They had done this before, and knew the routine.

But that did not change the excitement in the air for 11 graduates of the Type A Commercial/Certified Driver License class who gathered for their completion celebration Thursday afternoon at the farm on the Kaua‘i Community College campus.

“These are all upgrades,” CDL instructor Steven Carvalho explained. “You’ve seen them when they successfully passed their Type B licenses.”

The differences between the two types of licenses is in what vehicles the operator can drive, Carvalho explained. Simply, the Type B license allows the driver to drive the undetached trucks and vehicles while the Type A license upgrades their ability and enables them to operate the trucks that have trailers.

“I hope to use this license to benefit Ni‘ihau,” said Cindy Ala Kaohelauli‘i, one of two female operators in the class. “Hopefully, I can use it on Ni‘ihau, but because everything is so close range, this is just to prepare for the future.”

Ryan Puni of Kapa‘a said, “I just got married, so I want to do better for my wife.”

June will mark Puni’s seventh year with Wal-Mart. “I just want to do better,” he said.

“The course was kind of hard,” said Keith Adams, another of the six Ni‘ihau graduates. “But the good thing is that you get to experience everything.”

“Now that I have it, I can work for the future,” said Adams, an employee of Gay and Robinson.

Adams was one of the graduates who entered the program because of his employment, and with the successful completion of his Type A license, is “now ready for the future.”

Levi Viquelia and Leong Lim both work at the Lihu‘e Airport and took advantage of the program because it was available. “Who knows? One day we might need the A license,” Lim said. They both initially started because they needed the Type B license, and continued the program because it was there.

“Hopefully, I can find better opportunities,” Gwen Licayan, the second female graduate said. “I guess this is the highest you can go for now. I applied for a job everywhere that was close to where I live. Now, I’m just waiting for the phone call.”

“We have a waiting list for people who want to pursue the CDL program,” said Calvin Shirai of the Rural Development Project.

Since its inception, Carvalho estimates that they have passed about 50 individuals with CDL licenses, and of these, only a handful have left Kaua‘i in search of other jobs, or jobs utilizing their licenses.

“I just started another class on Monday,” Carvalho said. “This one has 14 students in it.”

“You really should have bus operators’ license courses,” said Alicia Viquelia. “There is a need for bus drivers.”

Viquelia, whose son Levi was one of the graduates, has been working for Polynesian Adventure Tours for 15 years and said that starting in June with the arrival of a new NCL ship, there will be ships in port six days out of seven.

Viquelia said finding bus drivers is hard because of the job’s seasonality, something that will change starting next month. “It’s feast, or famine,” Viquelia said.

“But, after June, it should be pretty steady because of all the ships that are scheduled to visit,” she said.

Shirai said that the request was timely because the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana has six candidates for the Type B bus operators license since PMRF opened up Shenanigan’s, an on-base bar and restaurant.

This is a good starting point, and based on Viquelia’s conversation, Shirai said he plans on scheduling a Type B bus operators course following the completion of the class that started Monday.

“If people out there have requests for classes, we’ll look into it,” Shirai said. “Anything that will help people become employed.”

The CDL program is a cooperative effort between the Workforce Development Program, the Kaua‘i Community College Office of Continuing Education and Training, the Rural Development Project, and the Department of Labor.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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