(Trinidad Guardian) Faced with a public transportation system almost being crippled last week by striking PTSC bus drivers, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan is now promising that 300 new buses will be brought to T&T to enhance the existing bus fleet.
The drivers from San Fernando and Point Fortin refused to drive defective buses saying some of them were not roadworthy even though they had inspection certificates.
Speaking to reporters after opening the Richardson Street Extension Road near Clifton Hill Beach Resort in Point Fortin yesterday, Sinanan accused bus drivers of playing political games.
The Point Fortin drivers said there was no mechanic assigned to work between 4 am to 1 pm at the Engineering Department so the buses could not be checked before departure. The drivers refused to work on grounds of safety.
However, responding to the action, Sinanan said the PTSC and the Ministry of Works and Transport will not allow defective vehicles to be on the road. He said the issue with the San Fernando and Point Fortin drivers were resolved within hours after inspection stickers were provided, yet the drivers refused to work.
“I ask all PTSC drivers to put political affiliation aside. Unions will do what they normally do as we enter an election year. It is unfortunate that certain actions are taken which deprive people of that service,” Sinanan said.
Saying there were some certificates missing, Sinanan pointed out that PTSC had given the assurance months ago that if there was a problem with an inspection, then PTSC would be responsible for the ticket fines and not the drivers.
Told that many of the buses on the PTSC fleet were old and not road worthy, Sinanan agreed that some of them were between 15 and 20 years old. He said there were currently 260 buses on the PTSC fleet but 300 more would be added by 2020. He noted that the first batch of 150 buses would arrive by the end of this year. Sinanan also said that PTSC would assess the terrain and routes before assigning the buses.
Because of the challenges of having old buses, Sinanan said Cabinet had approved the purchase of 300 new buses.
“Some of our buses have gone way past the lifespan. PTSC has 24 brands of buses. It is impossible to store parts for 24 brands of buses. Buses are not going to go on the road if they are not inspected, but sometimes buses may go on the road after inspection and something may happen,” Sinanan explained.
He noted that only four buses are down from the Point Fortin fleet, noting six are working and all buses have been inspected.
Sinanan also said that 15 buses from the last batch of 25 buses have been sent to Tobago. He added that when the new bus arrives, new buses will be sent to Rio Claro, Princes Town and Point Fortin depots.