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Bus depot security concerns

Questions remain over security at the St George’s bus depot, where ten vehicles were ransacked in the early hours of Monday.

A source who contacted The Royal Gazette claimed that surveillance had lapsed at the facility because of budgetary constraints, while Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said it appeared that the perpetrators “had time, and knew that they had time” in breaking into the vehicles.

While queries on the depot’s security elicited no details, a ministry spokesman said that some of the damaged buses had gone back into service yesterday owing to “the hard work and perseverance” of staff, who worked on them overnight.

Money vaults had been smashed in several buses, with replacement parts required.

Two bus runs were cancelled yesterday morning, but officials hope to avoid further cancellations, and will survey the fleet this morning before making a decision.

Five buses that had vaults stolen went back on the roads on Monday, with two more added the next day. The remaining three are expected to be fit for duty today.

The source who contacted this newspaper suggested that 51 buses had been off service on Friday — a figure which, if correct, would imply close to half the fleet being off the road, Mr Scott said.

The ministry did not respond when asked how many were out of service at present. That number has typically fluctuated according to daily assessments, but Mr Scott said he had been especially concerned by the high numbers of cancellations and their effect on schoolchildren.

“I will use CedarBridge Academy,” Mr Scott said. “Between September 12, 2016 and March 14, 2017, 44 per cent of buses were not available coming from the East End and 88 per cent were not available coming from the west.”

Students risked missing important tests when routes were cancelled, and Mr Scott said in some subjects CedarBridge pupils might miss “a quarter of a year’s courses, just because of buses not being available”.

Security at the St George’s depot was queried on Monday by Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security, and Mr Scott said that as of yesterday the Opposition had received “no updates or corrections — we assume that the information we have been given is correct, but we will defer to an official statement”.