Chief Secretary Orville London has issued a warning to Tobago truckers who purchase aggregate from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Studley Park Quarry at a subsidised price of $72.64 per tonne and sell it for as much as five times more.
He said an investigation into various complaints on the current availability of materials and pricing from the general public revealed a large contributor to these issues was a lack of regularisation of distribution and the price of transportation of aggregate.
He added that the lack of public awareness that aggregate can be bought from the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities and not the truckers themselves has resulted in various transportation entities taking advantage of the situation and setting the price of material as high as $3,000 to $4,000 for a load while having paid only $600.
In other words, he told Thursday’s sitting of the THA one can go to the quarry with an 8-tonne truck, pay $72.64 a tonne, and stockpile it in the backyard and selling it at $2,000 to $3,000.
“So we are actually subsidising the aggregate, the whole process but the consumer whom we want to help is not benefitting. I am saying that is one of the issues, one of the areas we want to put some emphasis and whether it means buying our own trucks I do not know.
“This is something this administration is not going to tolerate because you cannot take taxpayers’ money and subsidise an operation to benefit taxpayers and a few unscrupulous individuals benefitting from it. I just want to put these entities on notice that that situation is not going to continue for very much longer because it is not right, it is not fair, you can’t buy something for $600 and transport it down the road and sell it for five times the cost when we are subsidising it,” London said
He said the quarry was one of Tobago’s most important assets and over the years the Assembly had made significant investment and every effort to ensure that it was operated in a manner which will benefit the people of Tobago.