I think the time has come for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to think long and hard about privatising all State entities in this country.
In Trinidad and Tobago, we have a culture of dependence and a huge sense of entitlement. Look at the waste of manpower and taxpayers' resources at a typical T&TEC (Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission) or CEPEP (Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme) jobsite. You have one or maybe two men working and the rest sitting under a tree, yet they are all getting paid to do a "job". The WASA (Water and Sewerage Authority) also suffers from this chronic overabundance of manpower, with a similar outcome of low productivity.
Then there's PTSC (Public Transport Service Corporation). Their drivers recently had industrial action seeking a wage increase, among other things. They got what they wanted, yet still, the travelling public is being held hostage by the bus drivers. For the past couple of days, there has been some work stoppage at the bus terminals in San Fernando and Port of Spain. There's nobody around at the "Information Desk" to inform the travelling public about the status of the service. When you are actually able to get someone's attention, they behave as though they are doing you a favour by doing their job. I think this proves beyond a doubt that you can't throw money at a problem and hope it goes away. It never does.
More than anything ,we really need a cultural shift in Trinidad and Tobago—a shift in our attitude. The irony with these bus drivers is the sheer stupidity of the issue and what they deem as their solution. They want an increase in wages and hold the travelling public at ransom to force the Government to negotiate. The Government gets its revenue from taxation. For the bus drivers reading this, it means revenue doesn't grow on a tree or come from hopes and wishes but from the very people you are holding hostage. I am confused how these adults can't see that keeping people from getting to work has the reverse effect of what they are hoping for. Anyone with half a brain could appreciate this simple fact.
On Wednesday last, I, along with dozens of commuters, waited at Mt Hope from 5.45 p.m. to 9.28 p.m. for a bus going to San Fernando. This is very unacceptable and needs urgent attention. One of the fundamentals of every developed society is the ability to move its workforce efficiently. This means if we aspire to be First World, we need a functioning mass transit system. It's not rocket science. The solution is to privatise it all; get rid of the entire workforce and bring back fewer staff on probation and contract. This is the only way the taxpaying public in Trinidad and Tobago would get value for their taxpaying dollar.
We don't need more highways in the country, we need an efficient mass transit system that affords people an alternative to driving in their cars. We have less than 1.3 million people, a total land area of approximately 5,128 square kilometres, a couple hundred kilometres of roads (most in horrid condition) and over 500,000 cars. This equates to a very unsustainable situation in Trinidad and Tobago.
Sherwin P Cedeno