Transport Board gets million-dollar rescue
Government has once again come to the rescue of a struggling state-owned enterprise with a motion tabled in the House of Assembly to grant the Transport Board a $5 million supplementary.
The Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley, led off the debate in what will be the final sitting of Parliament before it automatically dissolves next Monday.
Lashley explained the funds will be used to bring the accounts of the Transport Board up to current and also to pay creditors including Simpson Motors as well as to purchase parts for buses.
"These funds will be utilized by the technical department at the Transport Board, to purchase other parts for some additional buses that are out of the system and of course to ensure that they back up to the total that we are accustomed to, " Lashley said.
The Transport Board has for some time had its operations compromised by an ageing fleet of buses with the majority facing mechanical problems. Commuters have been crying out for relief from the uncertain and unreliable bus service suggesting that the Board purchase additional buses. However, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, in his contribution to the debate, said he does not believe the solution lies in adding new buses to the fleet.
"Work with what you have, refurbish and rebuild the mechanical end of things... there is no reason why we should be rushing and jumping and just buying news buses and when you drive past every single Transport Board depot you can see a whole slew of buses parked up that could be, in some instances, resurrected and put back on the road."
Lashley also spoke to the need to get the Board's mechanic shop running at full capacity. He said the United Commercial Autoworks Ltd (UCAL) was established to deal with the "inefficiencies" of the in-house mechanic shop of the Transport Board but it was no longer cost-effective to pay UCAL. He suggested there be an expansion and modernization of the Board's in-house repairs department to capitalize on savings.