Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid today described as “scandalous” and a crying shame, what he said was the last Government’s decision to allow $4 million in equipment to rot rather than be put to use for the good of the country.
A seemingly angry Duguid told Parliament a number of skidsteer loaders – known locally by the make, Bobcat – as well as trucks and trailers purchased for the National Environment Enhancement Programme in 2009 were abandoned when the programme ended in 2013.
“You would expect or imagine that the then administration would have reassigned those 13 trucks, and 13 Bobcats and 13 trailers to other ministries or other departments so that they could make use of the investment that the country would have made in those pieces of equipment – over $4 million of equipment, I was told,” the minister said as he led debate on the amendment of the Road Traffic Act.
Duguid said during a recent visit to the drainage department he was “appalled and horrified” when he discovered that nine of the trucks, eight of the skidsteers and seven of the trailers were “left to rot from 2013 to now”.
“For those vehicles to have been put down for years and nobody looked back at them for years apart from [taking] parts off them – and God knows where those parts went [to, or] who benefited from the parts that were taken off – it is nothing short of scandalous,” he said.
Expressing disgust at the development, the minister suggested that a forensic investigation be held to get to the bottom of the matter, although he did not recommend what action, if any, that should be taken at the end of the probe.
“I would ask that maybe we should have a forensic investigation into what happened to those vehicles and why nobody looked back at them and why nobody found it fit that those vehicles should be positioned in other ministries who would have benefited from them,” he said.
Stressing that the vehicles were “left in the elements for all, and cannibalized from time to time”, Duguid said they were now missing radiators, seats, carburetors and “all sorts of parts” at a time when the country did not have resources to make the vehicles whole again.
“To have left so many pieces of equipment for years and never to have gone back at them it is scandalous to have wasted millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money, millions of dollars.”
Two of the trucks and two of the skidsteers were given to the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) while one of the trucks and one of the skidsteers were given to the National Housing Corporation.
Duguid told his parliamentary colleagues he had asked the chief mechanic at the ministry to see what could be salvaged but was told just yesterday that “we would be lucky to get one vehicle now”.
“He said the quantum of money we would have to spend to be able to rehabilitate them now after five years to get them back on the road would not be worth it. The cost benefit analysis was not there and I was just shocked,” he reported.
Duguid argued that the trucks could have been used to help with the collection of garbage, especially given the shortage of garbage trucks at the SSA.
“You know what benefit nine trucks could have been to help pick up garbage in this country over the last four or five years? It would have been a tremendous benefit. You know what benefit it would have been to have those Bobcats working to help keep out gullies free and clear so that we don’t have the drainage problems, so that we don’t have the infestation with mosquitoes? And the last administration found it fit to just leave those vehicles there to rot. It is just a scandal and I was just appalled,” he stressed.