[Updated] If the public were ever asked to vote on the worst-run ministries of the government, Transport would be right up near the top, Shadow Transport Minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin said.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin was responding to comments made by Transport Minister Walter Roban at a press conference yesterday, where said the PLP has made “sure and steady progress” on transport, and has a number of planned initiatives including attracting cruise ships, expanding airlift and redeveloping the airport.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “Transport Minister Roban announced his plan in terms that made you think he was cleaning up a mess created by someone else.
“But as we all know, the mess is of the Government’s own making, and it is difficult to see why the people who allowed the system to fall into such disrepair should be trusted to put it back together.
“Perhaps there is no need at this point to recite a list of all the public transport disasters that a long-suffering public have been made to endure, especially over the last year or 18 months. They are still fresh in people’s memories.
“Suffice it to say that if the public were ever asked to vote on the worst-run ministries of the government, I have no doubt that Transport would be right up near the top.
“In the One Bermuda Alliance, we consider that our mission is making the system work for the people again, and by people, I mean both residents and visitors.
“It seems to us that one of our first orders of business is simple – to ensure that there are adequate staffing levels and proper inventories of spare parts maintained so that buses can be kept on the roads and ferries on the water.
“We want to work together with the BIU to agree a new bus schedule that is in the best interests of both the customers and the bus operators, ” said Ms Gordon-Pamplin.
“We would like particularly to come up with a bus service schedule that properly meets the needs of residents in St. David’s and St. George’s. And we would like to re-establish a minibus service that is part of an effectively integrated transport system.
“We think our roads have been allowed to fall into disrepair in many areas. We’d like to start an island-wide road improvement programme to start getting this part of our infrastructure back into good condition, creating jobs and supporting small business in the process.
“We think trying to force taxi owners to put GPS in their taxis was a mistake. Our plan is to make it optional for taxi owners. If drivers feel it is useful to them, they should use it. And we believe that in the longer term, most of them will find it useful.
“We have laid much groundwork in examining the feasibility of attracting smaller cruise ships that would be able to commit to coming alongside in Hamilton and St. George’s. We will pursue contracting with the companies that operate them to ensure that these ships are made a reality.
“We have initiated preliminary contact with air carriers with a view to expanding air lift from the Caribbean and Latin America.
“We acknowledge the work that is required at the airport. However, it must be noted that the mammoth $1.5 billion debt Mr. Roban and his colleagues have run up will require some pretty creative financing to get it all done.
“Finally, I would like to say that I resent Mr. Roban’s smart-alec remarks about the OBA’s ‘Cuts and Pain Commission.’
“It is a childish way of trying to take people’s attention away from the flimsiness of the “sure and steady progress” theme he was trying to sell to a public, which by now knows well that the Government hasn’t made much progress of any kind in the last half-decade or so.
“The coming election is Bermuda’s opportunity to vote for change instead of more of the same that Mr. Roban represents. It’s a simple choice, but the future depends on it,” concluded Ms Gordon-Pamplin.
Updated 3.57pm: A PLP spokesman said, “The OBA is once again making fairy tale promises about major new government spending projects.
“If the OBA plans to dramatically increase spending on roads, along with their other proposed new spending of $500 million, then they are going to have to make deep and radical cuts elsewhere if they plan to also keep their promise to reduce the debt.
“The OBA have not given the people of Bermuda the courtesy of explaining what cuts they have planned, which programmes they will interfere with and what Bermudian jobs may be on the line.”
“We challenge the OBA to come clean with Bermudians and explain what will be affected by their unelected Cuts & Pain Commission? Public education? Benefits? Jobs? FutureCare? DayCare? The OBA can’t have it both ways.
“They can’t say that they are going to slash the debt while dramatically increasing spending. They are going to have to make deep and radical cuts somewhere and it’s time that they be honest with Bermudians about what their Cuts & Pain Commission is really all about.”
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