Commuters were hit with cancellations and delays yesterday as Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) bus drivers, mechanics and other workers in San Fernando made a demand for proper working vehicles.
Drivers in and around San Fernando participated in protest action at the King’s Wharf bus terminal.
San Fernando branch secretary Ryan Ramdath said the cries of PTSC workers had fallen on deaf ears and workers were now taking a stand.
“We have not been given the proper tools and equipment to continue doing the job that we are required to do. When I speak of tools and equipment I mean proper working buses,” he said.
Ramdath said out of a fleet of 70 buses, 53 were deemed road worthy by PTSC. But, according to him, closer inspection revealed that only five or six buses would satisfy the licensing authority.
He said drivers were faced with leaking buses, non-functional air conditioning units, cracked windscreens and mechanical problems.
Ramdath said drivers were frustrated as management failed to respond to their concerns.
“A simple thing as jacks, we have 15 (hydraulic) jacks of different sizes, from three tonnes to ten tonnes and none of them working properly. We had a flat on Monday night and the mechanic had to take three or four jacks to jack up one bus and it was empty,” he said.
Ramdath called on management to repair the buses to prevent casualties. He also complained about a cockroach infestation in the buses and uncomfortable seats.
Ramdath said school buses and vehicles providing services to the elderly and disabled operated yesterday.
“But several areas were affected, including Princes Town, Chaguanas, Fyzabad and others. We have had no discussion with management and we are hoping they would hear our cries and respond,” he said.
The PTSC apologised to commuters last night.
In a news release, the corporation said the delays were as a result of an unusually large part of its fleet being declared defected by its drivers.
“We have reason to believe that this is related to on-going negotiations in which non-cost items are being negotiated between the union (Transport and Industrial Workers Union) and the PTSC.
“The corporation is unable to negotiate the cost items with the union, without the prior approval of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). The PTSC remains committed to negotiating in good faith within the authority of the corporation, a situation that is well known to the union,” it stated.
The PTSC added: “We are diligently working towards rectifying the situation and returning to our normal bus schedules within the shortest possible timeframe. We apologise for the disruption and firmly believe that our loyal commuters deserve much better than this and should not be made to suffer for a situation beyond our control.”
The corporation said it hopes for the resumption of regular services today.