500 police vehicles grounded in Trinidad and Tobago

Scores of derelict police vehicles at the Vehicle Management Corporation in San Fernando. * RISHI RAGOONATH photo/T&T Guardian

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — A stag­ger­ing 500 po­lice ve­hi­cles have been tak­en out of ser­vice over the past three years and Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith blames an in­ef­fi­cient main­te­nance sys­tem for the on­go­ing prob­lem.

Grif­fith said those ve­hi­cles have been tak­en away from Po­lice Ser­vice crime fight­ing abil­i­ty.

He told Guardian Me­dia that the Po­lice Ser­vice’s (TTPS) pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance sys­tem of ve­hi­cles was so flawed that up un­til the mid­dle of 2018, a po­lice ve­hi­cle was be­ing writ­ten off and be­ing tak­en out of ser­vice every three to four days.

This was be­cause those re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the fleet would wait un­til the ve­hi­cles were crit­i­cal­ly dam­aged or worn be­fore send­ing them for re­pairs.

It is for this rea­son that an au­dit of the TTPS’s fleet has been or­dered so that the sta­tus of each ve­hi­cle can be as­sessed on which are in good work­ing con­di­tion, which can be re­paired, writ­ten off and used for parts.

“Our pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance sys­tem was flawed where­by we used to wait un­til ve­hi­cles reach the point of no re­turn, then send them for re­pairs. All ve­hi­cles pur­chased by the State should be sub­ject­ed to the prop­er pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance process. Go­ing for­ward, there is go­ing to be a prop­er ve­hi­cle main­te­nance pro­gramme and there will be a lev­el of ac­count­abil­i­ty so that when po­lice of­fi­cers dam­age ve­hi­cles through be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble, they will be held cul­pa­ble and dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion will be tak­en.

“If you can re­call, I took ac­tion when two po­lice ve­hi­cles were in­volved in an in­ci­dent when the of­fi­cers were dri­ving at 140 km, rac­ing back to the po­lice sta­tion for no ap­par­ent rea­son. If they dam­aged any ve­hi­cle, State prop­er­ty, based on a be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble, dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion will be tak­en. For the use of State prop­er­ty, there needs to be a de­gree of ac­count­abil­i­ty. We can’t have peo­ple dam­ag­ing ve­hi­cles and then loans have to be tak­en out to re­place them. Through a prop­er sys­tem, we can min­imise ex­pen­di­ture for main­te­nance and ac­qui­si­tions,” Grif­fith said.

He said there were over 150 derelict ve­hi­cles at the TTPS train­ing acad­e­my in St James, Port-of-Spain pre­vi­ous­ly, but af­ter an as­sess­ment and re­moval, the sport­ing field can once again be seen.

The back­yard of the Ve­hi­cle Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (VM­COTT) in San Fer­nan­do re­sem­bles a hos­pice for po­lice ve­hi­cles that have been slow­ly de­cay­ing for years.

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