The relationship between the bus service firm founded by ex-Transport Board mechanics and the Government which has bumped along a rocky road almost from its inception is to be fixed once and for all, Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid has declared.
During the Democratic Labour Party’s decade in office, the cash-strapped firm was owed over $18.4 million at one point, leading to work stoppages over late payments.
Then Minister of Small Business Development Donville Inniss described the business arrangement as a “failed experiment”.
UCAL had also complained that the statutory board was taking its buses to private garages for repairs.
But Duguid disclosed that Government would be looking to expand UCAL’s operations beyond its original client.
Duguid said: “I have had two meetings with UCAL delegations now . . . and not only now is the Transport Board directing much, much more work to UCAL, in fact as much as they can carry, but we’re in the process of leasing another part of the Transport Board to UCAL, which is the Mangrove location, so that they can do even more work for the Transport Board.
“I don’t want to preempt Cabinet, except to say that I would have given a report to the Social Partnership about the rationalization of all of Government’s workshops and UCAL will not only play an important part in fixing and maintaining vehicles for the Transport Board, but we want to even extend it to maintaining and fixing vehicles for all of Government, which would expand UCAL’s position and be able to assist UCAL in not only the amount of work that it has but also expand it in terms of training.”
Duguid said that UCAL staff would also be trained in electric vehicle repair and maintenance as the Transport Board’s proposes to switch to an electric fleet.
“The way that the ministry sees it – and I’m sure the way the Prime Minister sees it – UCAL will be playing a very integral role to this country as we go forward into the new years,” he said.