A 30-seater Coaster bus valued at almost $16 million that was purchased by the Region Ten Regional Democratic Council (RDC) some four months ago is yet to be collected.
According to a Region Ten press release yesterday, this purchase was an effort to effectively address the transportation woes being encountered by several students from far-flung communities within Region Ten.
The bus was purchased from Beharry Automotive and according to Regional Executive Officer (REO), Orrin Gordon, was expected to have been in operation for the academic year of September 2018. However despite paying the company almost $16 million for a brand new bus, there is no sign of the vehicle, the release added. The matter has raised several concerns from councillors of the RDC and in particular from the REO.
At the RDC meeting on Thursday, Gordon vented his disappointment with what he has dubbed as ‘undue’ delay by the dealer, Beharry Automotive, noting that it has resulted in increased challenges for not only the students but the Education department, as they have been forced to seek alternative arrangements in ensuring that the students can be transported to and from their respective destinations.
The new bus was bought to transport students along the Coomacka to Linden route
“I am saying this that frankly I am disappointed with the manner in how Beharry has been handling this matter as we sought to purchase a new bus after the one that was donated to the Region by S. Jagmohan under the David G initiative quickly encountered grave difficulties and securing parts for that bus proved to be a major challenge. It was then decided that we should purchase a 30 seater bus after Mr Jagmohan informed us that he was unable to assist us in securing the spare parts,” the REO told the meeting.
He added, “We made the purchase at Beharry and they later showed us a different bus from what we had originally wanted and I informed then that the bus that they were suggesting is one that we would encounter severe difficulties when seeking the spare parts, therefore we refused that bus. They were told that we wanted the Coaster 30 seater and up to now we are unable to have the bus that we paid for.”
The REO expressed optimism that he was hoping that by today the matter would have been addressed as they are also seeking to have the duty-free concession from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the vehicle. Some councillors questioned why the duty-free concession was taking such a lengthy time.
The Regional Chairman, Renis Morian, also did not hesitate to express his frustration over the matter. He queried as to what arrangements were put in place to ensure that the students are not affected by the delay.
Morian said that he is cognisant that the duty-free concession can take a while disclosing that he has benefitted from two duty-free concessions and had it not been for the excellent relationship that he shares with some of the GRA officials his wait would have been much longer.
“I know the process and I can tell you that it can take as much as two months to get your duty-free letter but I was fortunate to not wait this long because I knew persons within GRA who could have assisted me in speeding things up,” the Regional Chairman was quoted as saying. He promised to intervene personally if by Monday the matter was not resolved. “We have school opening on Monday January 7 and we still can’t get the bus that was paid [for]since September last year, that is really unacceptable and I am being open and say that I am not pleased because the welfare and interest of our region’s children should always be our number one priority,” he declared.
When quizzed as to what systems were being put in place for the new school term, Regional Education Officer (REDO) for Region Ten, Rabindra Singh, pointed out that the department has a ‘Pitbull’ bus that they use for the department and would use this temporarily to transport the students . Singh said that he has already put the relevant systems in place and would be reaching out to both parents and students during the course of the coming days to inform them how the arrangements would work regarding the ‘Pitbull’ bus doing the pickups.
He disclosed that because of the number of students who would be affected with the delay of the new bus, the ‘Pitbull’ will be making two trips so as to ensure that no child is adversely affected.