File image: PTSC workers sanitise a bus before sending it out to use at the PTSC Compound on South Quay, Port-of-Spain.

Employees of the PTSC Tobago station at Shaw Park say they are terrified as COVID-19 has infiltrated their workspace and they believe officials are not doing enough to ensure staff and members of the public remain safe.

Employees claimed that several staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and there is no contact tracing being done in a bid to contain the spread.

In addition, they say sanitisation procedures are not being practised at the office and on buses. However, management said world standard protocols have been put in place and continue to be enforced since the start of the pandemic.

One of the employees assigned to what’s informally known as the PTSC Bus Garage at Shaw Park anonymously revealed that three employees recently tested positive and have been subsequently placed on quarantine. A security guard stationed at the compound also fell ill while at work Sunday, and after receiving word of a positive PCR Test, several staff members are now concerned.

“The security guard is the first person to interact with staff and visitors, drivers have to go to her to collect the keys for the buses and she was also in and around the administrative area. She fell ill on Sunday, she was at work a few days before that on Thursday, shouldn’t we look to find out well who else might be sick?”

The employee also claimed that protocols require that the buses be sanitised after each trip, however members of the cleaning staff have not been provided with proper sanitisation tools and have been directed to use a bleach and water solution to wipe frequently touched surfaces.

“On each trip, the buses pick up persons from several places and a simple wipe is not enough those buses should be sanitised not just cleaned.”

Guardian Media also contacted Transport and Industrial Workers Trade Union’s representative for the PTSC in Tobago Ted Taylor who confirmed that several employees were COVID-positive including the security guard.

“I would have raised the concern as to the procedure for workers who were around that security officer for the past week including, Sunday when she was tested. Why aren’t these persons at home on quarantine and why contact tracing was not being done?”

Taylor said he was advised that the security company brought in a sanitisation crew around midnight to sanitise the security booth, however, he said he could not verify that the process was indeed done.

As it relates to ensuring public safety, Taylor said they are still waiting on management to provide the necessary equipment.

“We were promised fog machines to do the proper sanitisation because so far all the corporation is providing for the cleaners is bleach and water. We recently asked for an update on the sanitising machines, and we were told the board did not approve the fog machines yet.”

But PTSC Chairman Edwin Gooding maintained that all sanitising protocols are in place, as the buses are sanitised after every trip and again at the end of the day according to the PTSC COVID-19 policy.

“We also have physical measures in place to protect both drivers and commuters, markers have been installed to maintain social distancing, our drivers are equipped with PPE and the “No Mask No Service” policy is strictly enforced.”

As it relates to contact tracing for staff Gooding said he was aware of the discovery of a few cases, however, he was advised that all the necessary health protocols were put in place.

He promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the allegations, however, he advised that there are mechanisms to ensure staff safely share their concerns when they arise.