A PAC Affair @Transport Board

For anyone searching for comic relief during the stressful times we have to endure these days, especially with COVID 19 about, tune in to Public Account Committee (PAC) Hearings. Recordings are available online on Facebook, YouTube, Barbados Parliament websites- you have no excuse to not avail yourself of this stress buster.

The PAC under the chairmanship of Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley is currently probing what appears to onlookers to be GROSS mismanagement and malfeasance at the Transport Board covered in the Auditor General Special Audit Report for 2017-2018 period.

Public Accounts Committee Session – 7 September 2020

A couple questions after watching some of the hearing,

  1. Under what circumstances should former chairman of the Transport Board (TB) Anthony Wiltshire have been allowed to use his personal credit card to purchase bus parts? If the line of credit of the Board was cancelled, the ministry of finance should have intervened to implement a better arrangement.
  2. It is obvious the Board under Wiltshire reneged on its responsibility to hold the Board of Management accountable for several foul ups, bleeps and blunders revealed during the PAC sessions so far.
  3. The pace at which the PAC is scheduling meetings, it is unlikely a final report will be available in the near future. It leaves a suspicious mind to believe completion of PAC reports are timed to gain political advantage. In this case a general election has appeared in the rear view mirror. Former General Manager (GM) Sandra Forde indicated she was prepared to answer all questions at the last sitting, her offer was declined because the chairman was committed to a hard stop at 5.15PM.
  4. The CEO of the TB Fabian Wharton seems to be an improved version of former GM Sandra Forde but the blogmaster is always worried when a CEO cannot speak fluently about P&L matters.

All Barbadians should be concerned about the lack of professionalism practised at the TB exposed in the ongoing PAC meetings and Auditor General reprot. The TB is a statutory board responsible for soaking up millions in subsidies under BLP and DLP governments, borrowed NIS funds and padded the workforce with yardfowls at taxpayers expense. The blogmaster is hopeful financial controller Felicia Sue will not be the fall girl for what has transpired.

The comedy fest will continue in about two weeks.

Call to Account – Corruption and Mismanagement Rife @Transport Board

There is another important exercise unfolding in the Barbados Parliament. One of the most important working committees of parliament – PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE (PAC) – chaired by leader of the Opposition Reverend Joseph Atherley has been meeting to call to account the workings of the Transport Board. The revelations from the PAC so far corroborate the Auditor General’s several reports over the years – see recent Auditor General Special Audit of the Transport Board 2019. The Transport Board joins the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados Water Authority and other SOEs to be deliberately mismanaged by BOTH political parties over the years to facilitate the siphoning of taxpayers dollars to feed corrupt behaviour.


It is good to see the PAC doing its work and carried live for the public to follow. From the number of views logged on the videos it tells a story of perennial disinterest by the general public. Truth be told the matter of a lack of civic awareness and lack of engagement in our system of democracy by Barbadians is a subject the BU family has flogged unmercifully over the years.

Some of us are quick to call for impact assessment studies; environmental, traffic, social  to be undertaken to inform important decision making by the authorities.   The blogmaster takes the opportunity to ask for another study to determine the impact of a poorly run Transport Board on the nation of Barbados about to celebrate our 53rd year of independence.

After watching the first PAC meeting on the 4th November 2019 the blogmaster decided to visit the Bridgetown river bus terminal early a morning to observe and experience first hand. The terminal has the look and feel of any public terminal, the PA system was used efficiently to inform the public when to queue at the gates.  A few private buses co-opted by the Transport Board to supplement public transport were seen doing the job. The one negative was the length of time one had to wait for a bus. The blogmaster boarded a bus at 9AM and scores of children were still in the terminal and standing at bus stops along the route waiting to be transported. The look of resignation on the young faces suggest the wait was a normal occurrence.

The mismanagement of the Transport Board and other State Owned Entities (SOEs) by successive governments have had a debilitating financial and SOCIAL impact on our people. A mismanaged Transport Board continues to contribute to the degradation of our society and the powers that be prefer to serve self interest rather than deliver on the mandate to serve the people. Something has got to give!




2019 Special Audit of the Transport Board

It hurts like hell to know the general public- read mainly people in the lower socio-economic bracket- is being asked to pay $3.50 bus fare. Then we have to read how successive governments have contributed to the current state of affairs.

All sensible Barbadians must seriously question if the governance model has not outlived its usefulness or is it a case of too much learning. Surely the time has long passed for Duterte measures to be adopted in Barbados. It cannot be business as usual Mia!

Read the Special Audit of the Transport Board to confirm the sorry tale.

Another Heather Cole Column – $3.50 Bus Fare: A Catalyst for Change?

It seems that every problem related to the delivery of Public Transportation in Barbados has been exposed in the past few weeks. Raising bus fare has always been a sore thumb for successive administrations. In my lifetime, I have seen bus fare rise from $0.25 in 1976 to the present $3.50. Despite increases in the cost of public transportation, addition of new routes, increases in the number of buses and a significant increase in private operators in the delivery of public transportation, the efficiency and effectiveness of the service has never improved.

One must not forget the role played by the previous Administration in the starvation of government owned public transportation while they set out to privatize the entire system by issuing licenses to private operators. The 10 long years without purchasing a single bus is a major part of the problem. What the last few weeks have exposed are the bones of a badly decimated patient. Sad to say, it has also given a voice to those responsible for the patient’s state of health. The present Government must act to prosecute the hell out of those former Ministers of Government who are still to be blamed for what was inherited, lest they continue washing their mouths on them.

What the transport ministry has not realized is that they are to deliver a quality service. I applaud the effort to clean up the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal. However, the under capacity of buses needs to be rectified as soon as possible and with new buses. There is simply no way around that. One hopes that the difference in the increase of bus fare will be used to start a fund to buy some.

In my opinion the best recommendation that came out of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the entire sector is the plan to absorb some of the private sector mini buses under the Transport Board’s brand. Although that is to be commended, more must be done as the focus should now be on efficiency and effectiveness in order to reap economies of scale.

For this to be achieved the entire system must be changed from its very base. One cannot build a new transportation system on this old base and expect to obtain new results.

While all roads lead to Bridgetown, the public transport system does not have to reflect this. The present system must be redesigned for connectivity. For example, on a set of new blueprints, one can leave Christ Church and travel to Belleplaine without going to Bridgetown or by catching a special bus. The new design should encompass an express bus, a tram system or even an air train service that runs down the centre of the island, possibly encompassing the old train line as well as an extension to the airport. It should travel from St. Philip to St Lucy in no more than half an hour, stopping at several hubs along the way. With the present system an increase in bus fare is burdensome if one must catch 2 buses to get to work in the morning and 2 buses to get home in the evening. Having a decentralized system should positively impact congestion on the roads. Redesigning the system will increase efficiency, reduce travel times and lead to effectiveness.

The role that I envision for the mini buses and ZR’s is that they all do not have to congregate and ply their trade from Bridgetown. The ones that have opted to be part of the Transport Board brand can also operate to carry persons to catch the air train service and to take persons to catch the transport board buses. For example, persons who live in Cane Vale, Gall Hill and Silver Hill area can catch one of the Transport Board Brand mini buses take the to Oistins to catch the Speightstown bus. Persons who live in the south can take one of the branded ZR’s to a hub to take the air train.

The logistics of the routes must be re-examined. Longer buses with greater seating capacity must be purchased. Just because we came across the Atlantic like sardines packed in a tin does not mean that we must live this way until perpetuity. With a full complement of buses, more buses must be available at peak times; no one should have to wait an hour or half an hour for the next bus especially on the long routes and; a limited stop service must also be in place for some buses that travel the long routes.

We must also aim to have a transport system that supports not only a work day schedule but also performs a coach service for leisure. For example, no one would have been subjected to getting a ticket for parking illegally when they used their own transportation to attend the Buju concert last weekend. If transport board had a leisure service, few patrons would drive to those big events where they would be no parking.

All bus stops must become Smart Stops with online capability to inform commuters when the bus will be at their stop.

For government to remain a provider of public transportation, the transport board must re-claim some of the lucrative routes and limit the number of licences that they will issues to private operators.

The Management structure at the Transport Board must be aggressive for projects to be accomplished within short time frames. The transport board must also realise that increases in bus fare are not always the solution to address loss of income and that they must seek to reduce operating cost, waste and misuse of the public funds. An Improved customer service will lead to an increase in confidence in the transportation product.

We must seek to optimize our present modes of transport as well as introduce different kinds of transport. We can correct the deficiencies of the present system by creating a new state of the art logistically sound and efficient system that resolves decades old problems of not enough buses, buses not running to schedule as well as accessibility to public transport and a costly poor service.

As we investigate the next decade, travelling by bus can become a positive experience. Providing a high-quality service of differentiated products will make the transport board a profitable entity. It can therefore reap economies of scale to the point where bus fare can be reduced to $2.00 again as more persons will opt for a service that is reliable, convenient and saves them time.

Pay the $3.50 or Alternatively Drink the Poison

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”
Edward R. Murrow

The blogmaster continues to listen to the fury in the feedback by Barbadians triggered by government’s decision to increase bus fare to $3.50.  After more than four decades has the national discussion changed about the state of public transport and the burgeoning sub culture which accompanies it changed?

On the 10 April 2019 Chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick reminded the country a ‘bariffle’ of permits were issued in the last days of the last government. Minister Michael Lashley was the former minister responsible. The political partisans will need reminding that a similar event occurred when the last BLP government demitted office with Ministers Johnny Tudor and Gline Clarke wantonly approving PSV permits.

In summary, Eswick shared numbers to advise that about 53% of 735 valid permits as at 08 April 2019 issued to PSVs are concentrated on SEVEN routes (Bank Hall -38, Speightown -32, Silver Sands -99, Silver Hill -65, Redman  Village -59, Jackson -45, Fairy Valley -49).

In a nutshell the foregoing vividly supports what Barbadians should know. The mismanagement and politicization of the Transport Board by successive administrations has catapulted the country to where we are mired today.

In a nutshell the foregoing vividly supports what the Barbadians know. The mismanagement and politicization of the Transport Board by successive administrations has catapulted to where we are today. This repeat was no error.

There is more to tell about the current state of the transportation sector.

Barbadians have been complicit in the demise of the transportation system. Whether it is found in the passive response to former minister Rommell Marshall going against accepted tendering policy by approving a sweet deal with CGI insurance company. David Thompson approving a political gimmick to allow free bus ride for school children. And common to both parties, employing the most incompetent actors to manage the Transport Board. The last General Manger Sandra Forde rushes to the mind. Several other examples can be listed to support the view that the mismanagement of the Transport Board is a continuum.

It is disgusting – to put it mildly – to have to listen to the political talking heads from all sides pretending to be so concerned about the effect the fare hike will have on the travelling public. To watch the tours of the bus stands to benefit from the anti hike bus fare sentiment is most disingenuous.

The morass we have created in the transportation sector is a symptom of the bigger predicament we find ourselves, so spare us the ‘esoteric’ analysis. The poor must be protected, a non point. Continuing to conflate many issues triggered by the fare hike is an embarrassment to a 90% plus literate country fighting above its weight class country.

We are in dark place and to fix it will require the country to suffer some pain. How long the suffering will continue will be up to us. We agree that commonsense should tell us it cannot be business as usual.

Time to pick our poison!









Plan to Increase Bus fare a Heartless Act

We haven’t made the decision if it will go up by a $1.50 or if it will go up by $2, we don’t know now, but certainly all of that has to be accessed to make a decision as to where bus fares will go – Minister of Transport William Duguid

During the debate of the 2019 Appropriations Bill and Estimates- The Standing Finance Committee, Minister Duguid felt sufficiently emboldened to announce that active consideration is being given to a hike in bus fare. The idea that the bus fare maybe increased by $1.50 or $2.00 smacks of a callousness which challenges rational thought.

After ten years of living in a challenging economic environment and the understandable fatigue that has enveloped the citizenry- Duguid’s revelation must be labelled no more than ‘flying the proverbial kite“.   There is no way the government of Barbados can consider raising bus fare in the economic climate of the BERT variety.

It is a nobrainer to the least observant that the segment of population dependent on public transport occupies the lower socio economic rung. For the government to have the ‘bravado’ to broach an increase in bus fare at this time smacks of political-rape.

Have the chickens coming home to roost?

  • The poor financial state of the Transport Board is a fact.
  • That successive governments have used the Transport Board as a political play ground is a fact.
  • That the last government supported the Transport Board to starve UCAL of resources and at the same time outsource work to private contractors for hundreds of thousands dollars is a fact.
  • The last Transport Board leadership under Sandra Forde despite expending hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain an old fleet was unable to purchase a single new bus, a fact.

The biggest irony is that we have the incumbent government signalling to increase bus fare to $4.00, however, the current financial state of the Transport Board is a result of political patronage practised by BOTH DLP and BLP over the years. There is the oft saying that a people get the government they deserve. This smells like a numbers game by accountants determined to shave numbers to fit into an excel worksheet.

In a related matter the blogmaster took careful note of former Minister of Transport Michael Lashley successful attempt to explore a ‘loophole’ in the law which saw Magistrate Graveney Bannister dismissing a case against a PSV worker he represented.



Minister Michael Lashley Struggling to Deliver Average Transportation Service

Michael Lashley, Minister of Transport

Michael Lashley, Minister of Transport

The following comment was posted by BU commenter Artax in response to a statement by BU that questioned Minister Michael Lashley’s ability to supply an efficient public transportation service in Barbados – Barbados Underground

Transport Board has been STRUGGLING for months to put at least 85 units on the road per day. “How did (Lashley) plan to rollout a contingency?” By providing his usual “lip service.”

Lashley is only full of talk and can been deemed as being failure in his present role as transport minister than when he was minister of housing. Perhaps he is of the opinion “success” can be transferred from one ministry to the next without trying to achieve it through hard work.

For months commuters have been complaining about the “inordinate amount of time” they have to wait in the Fairchild Street bus terminal for TB to service routes in rural districts, such as Martins Bay, Sugar Hill and Bathsheba. How did Lashley respond to this situation? By saying “a DRAFT FRAMEWORK had been COMPLETED that would ALLOW private transporters, including operators of minibuses and tour coaches, to ENTER bus terminals DURING PEAK PERIODS and transport commuters on 14 routes. And they should START rolling into City terminals BEFORE the END of the Christmas holidays.” [Source: Daily Nation, December 19, 2016]

This proposal “looks very good on paper.” However, surely Lashley and the officials at the Transport Authority should be aware that the Traffic Laws and Regulations would have to be amended, if this suggestion is to become a reality. Why? Because “tour coaches and private transporters” are NOT registered to “pick up and set down passengers at bus stops,” and are not insured to engage in this practice.
As such, the operators of minibuses and tour coaches, through their collective bargaining agent, Alliance Owners of Public Transport Inc., [AOPT] have expressed their refusal to participate in the proposal. As at January 3, 2017, almost one week after the Christmas holidays, no tour coaches in the terminals and commuters are still complaining.

And TB’s methods of allocating bus repairs to service providers are also a cause for concern.

During the Budget debate in June 2015, while denying to suggestions from the opposition that TB allowed a private firm to install buses transmissions “at upward of three times what they cost, Lashley assured the House “MAJORITY of the MECHANICAL WORK REQUIRED by the Board was BEING ASSIGNED to UCAL, in preference to Quality Care, L&N, TransTech and Simpson Motors.” [PressReader, June 15, 2015]

Recall UCAL’s workshop in located at TB’s Weymouth Headquarters. Yet, on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, TB advertised an “Expression of interest for the repairs of ten (10) Hino buses.”

Not only has TB been systematically reducing bus repairs to UCAL and breached payment agreements, the Board solicited the services “of three Trinidadian engineers who have set up shop at the Transport Board’s Mangrove depot in St Philip and are reportedly repairing a number of buses. Reports were that UCAL was directed to transport 14 buses to the Mangrove mechanical workshop to be assigned to the Trinidadians.” [Source: Daily Nation, March 15, 2016]

Additionally, Sir Roy “previously charged that the Transport Board had been giving the repair work to outside sources and not to UCAL.” He said: “They continue to send buses elsewhere, even though UCAL is UNDER SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT to work day and night and to work as well on Sundays and public holidays, so that many days we a crew of workers available and on site, but they do not have enough work.” [Source: PressReader, December 8, 2016]

Privatization of State Enterprises on the Horizon

Posted by Artaxerxes to the UWI Cave Hill Takes a Hit

Tracey Shuffler advises government to Hand Over

Tracey Shuffler advises government to Hand Over

Politicians from the BLP and DLP are guilty of implementing policies that seemingly benefit the electorate in the short term, but in actuality having long term benefits for the political party.

For example, the NHC housing policy has been exploited by both the electorate and political parties. These housing units should have been starter homes for individuals/families who are in the process for developing themselves. Tenants should have been limited to rent units for a specific time period, while encouraging them to build their own homes. Financial assistance should have been given to those low income workers to either build their homes or purchase the units. Hence, rentals should have been an on-going process, whereby when one tenant moves out, another one moves in. Instead, and more so for political reasons, tenants were encouraged to occupy the houses for several years or not to pay rent. In 2008, this administration transferred ownership of the units to those tenants who occupied them for over 20 years, free of cost.

Additionally, I was doing a bit of reading and realised, prior to the 1976 general elections, Errol Barrow reduced bus fares from a per stage basis to a standardized rate of 25¢ per destination. However, he went on to lose the elections to Tom Adams and the Barbados Labour Party. Many people think Barrow is beyond criticism, but if we want to have a serious discussion about the Transport Board, we must first examine what implications this election gimmick had on the Board’s operations and financial stability over the years.

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Fixing Public Transportation

Submitted by Anthony Davis

The Transport Authority primary function is to plan, monitor and regulate the public transport system in Barbados.

“The Transport Authority primary function is to plan, monitor and regulate the public transport system in Barbados

“FROM BAD TO WORSE.” That sums it all up!

How do you expect people to be productive if they cannot get to/from work on time? It is very frustrating to hear: “We are having challenges with your services” after seeing buses with 2 or 3 passengers leave the terminal for destinations like Silver Hill which are flooded with minibuses and ZRs.

The challenges seem to be mental ones for the inspectors, because it is obvious to me that one should service the routes which have the most commuters waiting first. You cannot even ask the inspectors a question as they do not reply, or give you some stupid answer. The reason why that is so is because many government jobs in this country are political appointments, and it is very difficult to fit square pegs into round holes.

All we hear from this Government is “we plan” whatever, but the plans never seem to come to fruition. The only plans they can get off the ground are the taxes with which this Minister of Finance is destroying this country. He promises to tax us – and that is exactly what he is doing, no matter what the consequences. He could not care less how, and if, people get to work as long as he can hop into his limo – which is being paid for by the same tax payers who are being loaded with more and more taxes every time he gets up – and go to work.

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Transportation Feedback

Submitted Ready Done

Last night I was in the Fairchild street bus terminal and low and behold the entrance still has not been fixed. It has been in the current state for more than 10 years. It seems there was a serious attempt to fix it about three weeks ago. Instead, the first gate now not accessible, reducing overall passenger flow by one third. The nation’s leaders are currently saying the working class is lazy and unproductive, the average bus traveler spends 2 hours a day in the bus terminal, this translates to 10 hours a week or about 21 full days of a year sitting in the bus terminal. What a unproductive use of time.

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Government Cuts: Wrestling the Economic Beast

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler as they appeared t the national consultation

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler as they appeared at the national consultation

The news that government has introduced a plan to the private sector to cut $400 million from the budget starting with the Transport Board (TB) does not come as a surprise to BU. The issue of financial indiscipline and a ballooning subsidy at the TB which has encroached on malfeasance has been ventilated in several blogs. The irony is that former Minister John Boyce was rewarded for his ‘good’ work after the February general election with a transfer to the ministry of health which commands a greater allocation of government’s budget.

The political rhetoric which was showered on a gullible public during the February 2013 general election has been replaced with the sober reality that government’s widening current deficit and chronic negative growth must by wrestled to the ground, and soon. As distant as 3 years ago several BU commenters joined others in wider society in calling for better management of government’s resources. The government (until recently) had remained steadfast in its decisionmaking driven by political expediency rather than confront the harsh financial reality which was visible to even fools.

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Time to Act…Transport Board Again

Submitted by Old Onions Bag

Sandra Forde, General Manager of the Transport Board

Sandra Forde, General Manager of the Transport Board

The days of the Transport Board operating as a quasi Governmental institution are numbered. We have tried our best for years now to make it break even, and or make profit but to no avail. One of the reasons, (which there are many) by nature Government institutions operate intending to give social benefits and not to make profit paramount at the expense of societal benefits. Obviously there lies the reoccurring problem with  our Transport Board. Before, the organization was operating with a management whose training and thought was not to maximize the bottom line.

We cannot eat the cake and have it too…either we want to operate profitably or we want to provide solely social benefits? Profitability could mean, leasing to a private concern, whose management will want to make profits for its shareholders.

Transport Board as it stands sucks up good bucks that could help reduce a deficit lending institutions like the IMF see as hazardous to our country’s health. When will a decision be made? We could use the mega bucks as with BNB (now Republic Bank) which has had a complete turn around placing more in our Treasury and employing even more staff?

Politicians Laughing at WE – NIS Funds, Transport Board, a Matter of Integrity

Submitted by Hamilton Hill

Pedro Stanford, Chairman of the Transport Board and Sandra Forde, GM

While listening to Sagicor’s Early Business Report on VOB some morning this past week I was startled by the news that the authorities in Jamaica had brought charges against three persons in that country for corruption. A business man, a police officer and a member of parliament–yes a sitting MP. According to the report this all came about through a traffic ticket, and a subsequent attempt to have it disappear. BARBADOS ARE YOU TAKING NOTE? This is what integrity legislation when enforced can do.

In an effort to breathe life into a transportation system that has long been a victim of political cronyism on both sides of the fence, government has again turned to its perennial cash cow better known as the NIS, and we who could very well end up on the short end of this deal have no voice as to whether or not it should be done. Why don’t we? The planks of protection embedded in Integrity Legislation are not in place. If there were this board would not have been made to operate in a climate where its failure is and has always been a foregone conclusion—where it pandered to its competition by way of the sale of its more lucrative routes, often times to friends and even family members of those in control of its very purse strings. Surely we can all remember the mini busses that covered the St.George area. Day and night they were packed to capacity, while the transport board’s were empty. For the most part they were owned by one person. One well connected person.

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Chain of Command at Transport Board

Submitted by John Dillinger

Patrick Gollop, Transport Board Public Relations Consultant

After the all clear was given and the tropical storm watch discontinued at 5AM this morning, a call went out on the CBC radio stations for all Transport Board employees to report for work. This was understandable. However what I do not understand was why this call was being made by Patrick Gollop, Public Relations Consultant for the Transport Board. Why wasn’t this made by the General Manager, Sandra Forde or the Manager of marketing Lynda Holder or Operations Manager Desmond Sabir or the Human Resources Manager?

Why was this call being made by Patrick Gollop who apparently isn’t even on the staff of Transport Board?

This occurrence speaks to an unprecedented level of political interference at the Transport Board by a political appointee given the usurping of the function of calling staff back to work by senior management of the Transport Board. Were all the senior management team of Transport Board incapacitated at that time that they couldn’t make the call? Were they out of the country?

Need To Probe Maintenance Program At The Transport Board

Submitted by John Dillinger

John Boyce,Minister of Transport

For the second time in a couple months, morning rush hour traffic is being warned by Operations Control of the RBPF of an oil spill by a Transport Board bus which was on its way to Bridgetown. This time the spill extends from the Garden, St. James to Derricks, St. James and there are reports of one accident and another vehicle running of the road.

A couple months ago, a Transport Board bus had an oil spill coming up Horse Hill, St. Joseph all the way to the area of Groves Corner on its way to Bridgetown. At that time, several vehicles also ran off the road. Are these cases of poor maintenance at the Transport Board?

We also had a Transport Board bus running off the road into the car park at Sheraton Centre and damaging several parked cars after it had just left a garage in Kendal Hill undergoing repair work.

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