Swal­low­field de­pot staff skep­ti­cal about min­is­ter’s up­com­ing visit

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Corey Robin­son Staff Re­porter corey.robin­son@glean­erjm.com

AU­THOR­I­TIES AT the Swal­low­field Is­land Traf­fic Author­ity (ITA) de­pot have fingered low salaries and de­crepit work­ing con­di­tions as their main con­cerns ahead of an up­com­ing visit by Trans­port Min­is­ter Mike Henry.

Henry was slated to visit the ITA de­pots in Kingston and Span­ish Town to­day; how­ever, a press re­lease last night said due to ill health, the min­is­ter had to post­pone the visit.

The min­istry did not give the rea­son for the min­is­ter’s vis­its, and although em­ploy­ees were yes­ter­day busy spruc­ing up, some were skep­ti­cal about the rea­sons be­hind it.

“I don’t know if any­thing will come out of his visit. It all de­pends on what it is about; we don’t know,” of­fered one in­spec­tor yes­ter­day.

“I would like to at least say to him, how­ever, that we give thanks for the visit. In my 19 years, it’s the first the min­is­ter is com­ing to look for us at the de­pot. So I ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Yes­ter­day, em­ploy­ees at Swal­low­field were busy clean­ing and wip­ing down the build­ing, even in­stalling two air-con­di­tion­ers that they said were long over­due. How­ever, these were but the tip of an ice­berg of con­cerns, the em­ploy­ees protested.

“We work 24/7. We work from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon­day to Friday, and on Satur­day, you hear the po­lice call­ing us to say that there is an ac­ci­dent and we have to run and go do it,” the in­spec­tor ar­gued.

“If it is even a Sun­day and the alarm goes off at the de­pot, you have to run come up here come check if some­thing is wrong. We don’t get any time as ex­am­in­ers. We don’t get any days off – not even lunch be­cause our lunch time is when most peo­ple bring their ve­hi­cles to be passed.”

The in­spec­tor said that some 98,000 ve­hi­cles were passed at the Swal­low­field de­pot last year, and de­spite re­peated re­quests, the au­thor­i­ties have failed to in­stall as much as a water cooler for cus­tomers or the in­spec­tors who have to work in the sun all day.

RE­STROOMS IN BAD CON­DI­TION

Two re­strooms des­ig­nated for cus­tomers were in a de­plorable con­di­tion when The Gleaner vis­ited. In one bath­room, both toi­let bowls were clogged with fae­ces, while in the other, a broken sink, al­most touch­ing the ground, spoke louder of the in­fras­truc­tural chal­lenges there.

Another in­spec­tor shared that the premises leaked heav­ily and that some cus­tomers’ files were de­stroyed by rain from Hur­ri­cane Matthew last week.

In ad­di­tion, he said cus­tomers and staff were rou­tinely held up for long pe­ri­ods as the de­pot was not fit­ted with much-needed soft­ware that tracked re­cently im­ported ve­hi­cles.

“So you buy your new car now. You get it from the wharf, and when you reach here, you nor us can do any­thing be­cause we can’t ver­ify it. We have to wait to have ev­ery­thing checked,” said the in­spec­tor.

GLAD­STONE TAY­LOR/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

An air-conditioning unit be­ing in­stalled at the Swal­low­field Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ex­am­i­na­tion De­pot in St An­drew yes­ter­day.

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