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JUTC runs up massive repair tab

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 03, 2014    

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THE auditor general is concerned about the exorbitant amount of money the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has been paying out to repair and maintain its Volvo buses.

In her 2012/13 Audit Report to Parliament, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said between 2008 and June 2013, the JUTC spent $331.7 million on expert guidance for the repair and maintenance of its Volvo buses, which constitute 66 per cent of its fleet.

The company was forced to seek expert advice to do the repairs because it had no maintenance manuals for the buses. In addition, the company needs a V-CAD diagnostic tool, which is critical in detecting the problems.

JUTC managing director Colin Campbell said the issue could be cleared up later this year, as the company has now acquired the manuals for all its maintenance departments, and only needs the equipment and the expertise to do the repairs.

In the absence of the manual and the diagnostic tool, the JUTC has been using a private dealer who provided diagnostic, repair and maintenance services which cost over $331 million for these services up to June last year.

The auditor general also found that despite the acquisition of 260 specialised tools at a cost of 42,888 euro, the JUTC failed to utilise 83 per cent or 215 (valued at 30,597 euro) of these tools, because local mechanics were not trained to use them. The remaining 45 (17 per cent) valued at 12,291 were missing.

The JUTC indicated that they were not aware of the missing tools.

"We found that whereas the JUTC had some procedures to govern elements of the repairs and maintenance function, it lacked a comprehensive fleet management policy to guide the acquisition and replacement of buses," the auditor general said.

She stated that the absence of a comprehensive policy was exacerbated by the bus company's failure to adhere to its own internal inventory policy. Minimum stock reorder levels were not established as dictated by the policy, and the absence of this information impeded its ability to forecast stock shortages and bus downtime. This weakness was evidenced by the number of buses that were in the garage.

"We found that the JUTC does not have a system in place to track the operational efficiency of its fleet of buses. The absence of such a system prevented JUTC from assessing, for example, the operational cost per vehicle," she noted.

"Further, we analysed JUTC's Management Information System and observed that there was no data in pertinent fields, such as parts used and odometer reading. Additionally, the cost of the repairs for each vehicle was not recorded," Ellis pointed out.

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