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The winter of our discontent

Dear Sir,

?Just when I think I have seen it all, when it comes to government dysfunction and administration, the morning paper jolts me into recognising a reality that is even more ludicrous than I previously imagined.

Recently, The Royal Gazette reported on the December 13 announcement from the Department of Public Transportation concerning a new winter bus schedule, which was designed to cut down on cancellations because of vehicle shortages.

Despite the last buses on some popular routes running earlier, Roger Todd, head of the DPT, claimed that the new schedule would allow for “a reliable public bus service”.

Transport minister Zane DeSilva said the new schedule was a “long-awaited achievement” and that the work of Walter Roban, his predecessor, was “instrumental”. He thanked the Department of Public Transportation and the Bermuda Industrial Union for their “collaborative efforts”.

Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said during the press conference: “Yesterday was a great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.”

Good thing I had not taken a sip of my tea when I read that ... Upon regaining my composure, I was forced into believing that there must be a “back story” here, which we, the public were not privy to.

A short browse of some local news websites revealed this little nugget from Ceola Wilson, of Bermuda Real Online, a longtime news reporter and journalist.

On December 13, she was present at the aforementioned news conference, when DeSilva announced this new 2018 Winter Bus Schedule.

Responding to questions posed by Bermuda Real, the minister confirmed that a Canadian consultant had been paid $1.7 million to produce rosters for Bermuda’s public buses and, to date — as at December 13, 2018 — we still do not have approved rosters.

It was revealed that this Canadian consultant was hired back in 2001 when Mr Roban was transport minister under the previous Progressive Labour Party administration.

When asked how much the consultant had been paid over the past 17 years, Mr DeSilva said, basically, $100,000 a year for 17 years.

At which point, Bermuda Real noted that the BIU president confirmed the cost at $1.7 million. It was not made clear as to whether the consultant was still being paid for his “services”.

Clearly, as is often the case, the taxpayer has had little or no value for money here, which apparently did not seem to matter to either the previous PLP government or the One Bermuda Alliance administration.

So when Mr Furbert says it was a “great day” and it has taken 17 years and $1.7 million for them to devise the new bus schedule, he should understand how utterly ridiculous and infuriating his statement sounds to the commuting and taxpaying public.

Rather than holding a self-congratulatory press conference, Mr Furbert and the various ministers involved in this saga should be hanging their heads in shame and apologising to Bermudians for yet another example of gross wastefulness of taxpayers’ money.