Within 72 hours after being instructed to go on immediate leave until the end of his contract as general manager of the Pubic Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), Ronald Forde was yesterday reinstated in his substantive post.
Asked why the sudden change and release issued by the Ministry of Works and Transport, line Minister Rohan Sinanan told the T&T Guardian that "it was a miscommunication."
Sinanan did not, however, elaborate but said that he will be meeting with the Board of PTSC and Forde to discuss the issue today.
Forde, when contacted, said he was not informed of his reinstatement officially even though an official release was sent out by the ministry to all media houses at 10.37 am (yesterday).
Forde, although he expressed happiness at his reinstatement, described the situation as "dangerous."
"This threatens the democracy of the country where someone could go before the Joint Select Committee (JSC) of the Parliament to try to get better goods and services for the country and then be reprimanded and discharged after. This surely threatens the democracy of the country," Forde said.
Forde also expressed concern that his professional career has now been tarnished. His contract ends on February 28, next year.
"I worked diligently for many years as a public servant, as a teacher, then at the National Housing Authority, the Ministry of the People and Social Development, even overseas at the British Virgin Islands, and PTSC and I have never been through this. No one ever had to challenge my professionalism and ability and this is painful for me. This is a frightening situation," Forde said.
Forde said he would be seeking a meeting with Sinanan to discuss the way forward. "A relationship has been estranged here and I would like to know how best I can move forward from here."
On Friday night, after 8 pm, Forde who was part of a meeting with the PTSC Board was asked to leave the room and then later asked to return where he was handed a letter signed by PTSC's chairman Terrence Beepath informing him that he was being sent on immediate leave.
This notice came four days after he (Forde) went before the JSC and spoke about the PTSC's operations and what was needed to make it efficient, including raising bus fares.
Forde, in a previous interview with the T&T Guardian, said before he was given the letter he was told verbally that because of what he presented last Tuesday before the Land and Physical Infrastructure JSC, the ministry had to now "do damage control."
One of the main points raised by Forde was the need to approach Cabinet with regards to increasing fares. However, the ministry immediately denied Forde's statement by saying that in order for an official fare increase to happen, PTSC must first consult with all relevant stakeholders, including the public.
Beepath, in a radio interview yesterday, said Forde had over 80 days accumulated leave and was asked to proceed on leave in relation to that and the decision had nothing to do with his statements before the JSC. He said the Board praised Forde for his conduct before the JSC.