Let local craftsmen make bus shelters

It is a sad story. During the past three years or so there was a lot of talk about the need for bus shelters on our island. After a lot of complaints the county gave in and approved a project to buy some bus shelters for Kauai.

We see them now here and there — those green iron structures that would give limited shelter to a few people while waiting for the next bus — but the talk about them did not subside. It became even more intense.

That’s because of the costs and because of bringing these structures from the so-called Mainland instead of building them locally.

No wonder that we, local people are upset. I have not yet met a person who would have said that it was pono.

I don’t know where those decision makers live that they are not aware of the many skillful hands of our excellent craftsmen on this island who can easily design and build the shelters from local material with local labor and at much-much lower cost. And they would be proud to put their names on what they build.

Let’s see how they do it on other tropical and subtropical islands. The island engineering division determines the required dimensions and other main requirements, e.g. only local material and local labor is to be used, etc.

There is an added requirement, namely that the craftsman must put his name permanently on the completed structure.

This is important, because it is an inspiration for the local craftsmen to excel in their work and to invite the respect rather than the wrath of the community.

The island administration invites bidders through a posted announcement for a simple local design and subsequent construction if their design is selected.

But posting is not enough, because craftsmen don’t have time to go to check out the posted bids on the administration building every day. They use the local media free of charge.

Here on Kauai we have our community radio KKCR and our community television Hoike and they would be happy to announce all live bids from the county in their programs twice a day.

I can guarantee that no station manager would refuse this, because they are here to serve this community and they know it, better than our county government.

The bid windows are never more than two weeks for such simple projects. The engineering department selects the best design during the next week, then prepares a public announcement about the winning project and prepares the contract with the winner.

We don’t have to have a California or Arizona look with our bus shelters; a strong and practical wood-plus bamboo structure would be much cheaper, would still look nice and fit better into our climate than any iron or all-plastic construction. Occasional maintenance will not add up to much either.

Thus everybody would gain: the people, the craftsmen and the county government. That’s what I call a successful community project.

It is not too late to think and to act.

•••

Janos Keoni Samu is a resident of Kalaheo.

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