By Justice R. Clarke & Decontee M. Wesseh
MONROVIA, Feb. 7 (LINA) – The Liberia government is expected to receive a donation of 45 transport buses from its Indian counterpart before the middle of the year, according to Herbie McCauley, Managing Director of the National Transit Authority (NTA).
The new fleet will add to the existing 29 NTA buses transporting passengers in the country’s capital, Monrovia, and to some rural destinations.
McCauley told the Liberia News Agency Thursday that under a grant agreement, Liberia will benefit from 25 buses this March, and the second batch of the goodwill gesture from India will see the coming in of an additional 20 by mid-year.
He said the work of the transit authority is at the core of the realization of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development because the fares per distance charged on NTA buses are by far lower than its competitors.
“We help our people save more money, and this is what this government is interested in… to reduce poverty,” he said.
In August last year, McCauley told the press that the government was anticipating some buses to come into the country, adding, “so we want to tell the people of Liberia that things will change very soon because [we] at the NTA will work very hard to make sure that we achieve our pro-poor goals.”
He further told LINA on Thursday that the Authority has extensively succeeded in upgrading its garage which he described as the “backbone” of the entity.
Some mechanics and other technical staff of the institution recently returned from China and Cote d’Ivoire where they gained more skills in their fields, an initiative meant to ensure that NTA buses are mechanically well-managed and maintained.
Nonetheless, McCauley expressed concern over the manner in which some passengers mistreat the buses, while they are onboard, citing the peeling of the seats, disposing of trash on the floor of the buses, among other counterproductive acts.
Consequently, one of NTA’s short-term goals is to set up a technical control center where specially-trained staff can monitor all activities on the buses in traffic, their destinations, and the behavior of riders (passengers) and attendants, said McCauley.
All this, he added, is intended to make the buses live longer, as authorities endeavor to ensure that members of the public riding the buses feel comfortable and enjoy quality service.
India has been one of Liberia’s biggest partners in the public transport industry.
In 2014, for instance, it gave the government of Liberia15 brand new Ashok Leyland buses following a request of assistance in that regard.