PTSC another black hole for state millions

Finance Minister Colm Imbert - Angelo Marcelle
Finance Minister Colm Imbert - Angelo Marcelle


I RECENTLY read a wonderful exposé on the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) and the Elderly and Differently Abled Mobile (Eldamo) service. That exposé came as no surprise. I am quite aware of how this organisation, like the many others managed by the State, operate.

While the report merely exposed the lack of vision at PTSC, many others, I dare say all state institutions and organisations, function with the same modus operandi. I recall not so long ago when PTSC had more managers than buses. One wonders how can such a faux pas occur and persist under the watchful eyes of people awarded and rewarded with big titles, huge salaries and endless perks?

While the exposé focused on PTSC, such massive incompetence – there is no other way to define it – exists in every other state institutions. We only recently found out about the Auditor General’s concerns over a couple billion dollars. And, of course, the Minister of Finance, in his signature arrogance, sought to dismiss those concerns, as he has done with everything else. After all, “they eh riot yet.” Apparently he is awaiting the riots to justify busting out the water cannon, which is probably being strategically hidden some place.

I distinctly recall PTSC being inefficient since my high school days – in the 1960s. It was partially responsible for me dropping out of school after being a daily recipient of “licks.” My only crime then was reaching to school late, compliments of PTSC. And over the decades the only thing that has really helped with transportation was the introduction of the maxi taxis.

PTSC is but another black hole where millions are poured, annually, with no corresponding value ever provided. Its failure, like the failures in other state institutions, stems from the massive mismanagement at every level; combined with no accountability. It is used, like several other state institutions (WASA, TSTT, regional corporations, PATT, HDC et al) as a place of employment for the ruling party’s supporters, where all that is required is “a recommendation” or a phone call from an MP.

Every so often a couple trusted people are sent on spending sprees, where millions are spent on what we are told are “new buses.” Reminds me of a ro-ro boat recently purchased in Australia to operate between Trinidad and Tobago. I have seen truces between gangs lasting longer. Meanwhile, we all see some of the Thomas buses I went to school with in the 1960s still on the road. How are such discrepancies explained?

When friends and supporters, and their sons, are hired as mechanics, who know absolutely nothing about auto mechanics, what do we expect in return? The PTSC compound in Port of Spain is a graveyard for buses recently registered, as is evidenced by their number plates.

PTSC, like other state institutions, deals largely with the elderly, the poor and children. There is no real care or concern by management for the clients/passengers. One would think that knowing a significant percentage of one’s clients to be elderly, the organisation would cater to their needs and avoid the hours standing in line. But long lines are normal, while the management casually blames the drivers. From my observations, the San Fernando route gets a bit more attention.

To claim there are six Eldamo buses, but one driver, is insulting to our elderly and differently abled population. That many of our elderly citizens would have given their better years in building this nation, only to be discarded in their later years, is offensive in many ways.

I have always held that the resources of this nation do not belong to any political party, that they belong to the citizens of the State. Despite what we were told, our education was never free. Neither is our healthcare. The food cards are not free. As a matter of fact, nothing is. There is a cost to everything.

I always find it fascinating that countries with zero natural resources can get so much done, while we cannot get a simple thing like water in our taps.


"PTSC another black hole for state millions"

More in this section