Fri | Jul 10, 2020

Transport Centre cleaning bill contract raised eyebrows - Cleaning and maintenance contractor being sought

Published:Sunday | November 17, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Robert Montague, minister of transport and mining.
A taxi stops to allow commuters to cross the road in close proximity to the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre.

The Transport Authority (TA), which has management responsibility for the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew, is currently reviewing contract proposals from individuals seeking to provide general cleaning services at the facility.

Robert Montague, the minister responsible for transportation, told The Sunday Gleaner that a review of the contract two years ago raised eyebrows at the Cabinet level, but the ministry was advised against termination.

Montague said cleaning and maintenance was previously done by the Port Authority of Jamaica since it opened its doors in 2008. However, responsibility for the management of the centre was transferred to the TA just over a year ago.

“The TA wanted to terminate the contract but was advised that it could not do so, despite areas of dissatisfaction. I believe the advice was that it had to run its course. But the issue stood out because of the contract sum and dissatisfaction with the work done,” said Montague.

‘Whole heap a money’

He was unable to say what was the contract sum, but described it “as a whole heap a money”.

Senior Legal Officer Ewan Simpson said the TA inherited the cleaning contractors.

“The contractors we inherited are contracted to address matters of general sanitation on a daily basis. Now we are currently at the tendering process which is a requirement, as we speak,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.

TA Managing Director Cecil Morgan apologised to commuters for the dust nuisance affecting passengers traversing the facility, due to the late morning cleanings.

Acknowledging that the roof was dark and dirty from lack of maintenance, he said a separate contract is to be issued for industrial maintenance which would include cleaning the roof.

“This has not been done for the last few years. We are currently developing the terms of reference for a contract to be tendered for industrial maintenance, to include cleaning of electrical panels. We expect this to be completed by the end of the fiscal year,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.

Vendors occupying shops inside the facility are responsible for the cleanliness of their immediate surrounding and the area directly in front of the shops, Morgan said.

The maintenance programme costs are estimated at $100 million, to be spent over the next five years. That sum, he said, was separate from the routine maintenance costs that are required.

Colin Campbell, a former managing director at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, the national bus company, told The Sunday Gleaner that the roof was cleaned at least once during his tenure.

“The Port Authority was responsible for the maintenance, including cleaning. The steps, the platforms were wiped clean before it was opened to the public, because the area is heavily trafficked. The facility is now wholly owned and operated by the Government. I recall that about $8 million was provided monthly for maintenance,” he said.

Cleaning of the roof was done with the cleaner in a (box carrier) truck. The giant columns require the same trucks or expanded ladders, Campbell said.

Meanwhile, the external perimeter of the centre has become unsightly, attracting the homeless and the mentally ill, who are sleeping on the sidewalk and pavement.

Vendors have been peddling their wares in carts on the downstairs sidewalk parallel to Eastwood Park Road. It began with one vendor but has increased to three and the municipal corporation has not arrested the situation. Vendors are sometimes operating on the sidewalk on North Odean Avenue end.

Morgan said the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation is responsible for the external cleanliness of the centre, including the removal of vendors.