Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Purchase of motorbikes: TTPost general manager suspended


The TTPost motorcycles stored at the operations centre in Piarco.

Donstan Bonn

THE general manager of operations at Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPost), Robert Hernandez, has been suspended pending an investigation into the purchase of 50 new motorcycles which cannot be used.

Line minister for TTPost, Public Utilities Minister Nizam Baksh, said he was awaiting an official report.

The purchase of the motorcycles became public knowledge  last month, when TTPost advertised the sale of the motorcycles via auction.

The newspaper advertisement stated 50 “new, unused and licensed motorcycles” would be for sale at TTPost’s main office in Piarco.

The Honda CGL 125cc motorcycles are still stored at the Piarco facility. 

A senior official at TTPost confirmed Hernandez was suspended with pay until the investigation was completed. The official said  Hernandez, who joined the company in 2008, was suspended pending the investigation into the purchase of the motorcycles and other issues.

He was officially given his letter of suspension on March 19, the Express was told.

The official said: “The whole purpose of the investigation is to find out who really gave the final approval on the purchase of the motorcycles. A report is expected to be submitted to the board meeting on May 28.”

Reginald Crichlow, general secretary of the T&T Postal Workers’ Union (TTPWU), declined to comment when asked about the issue yesterday.

However, Crichlow had told the Express, during an interview on April 4, that workers refused to use the motorcycles since they were “clutch-driven” and not designed for the kind of mail delivery required. 

Purchase was made without consultation with workers, who continued to use the old vehicles, Crichlow said.

Baksh told the Express yesterday: “I don’t know who purchased it, but I was told the motorcycles were not appropriate. What the workers wanted were scooters. I hope I could get the report by the end of this week.”

The senior official said the TTPost Board had to give the final approval for the sale of the unused motorcycles.

The official said a motor scooter, a simpler vehicle, should have been purchased instead of motorcycles because it was easier to mount and had added space for a delivery box. A motor scooter was also better suited for the rural parts of the country.

The motorcycles would have cost a total of about $550,000 and the motor scooters would have been a similar price.

A new tendering process is expected to take place next month, with new specifications for vehicle purchase, the official said.

The Express contacted the administrative assistant assigned to Hernandez at TTPost and asked for his contact information. The request was declined.