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Thursday, April 13, 2017 guardian.co.tt
T&T Express stalls
at sea on return
What should have been a two and a half
hour journey to Tobago turned into a five-
hour ordeal for passengers who travelled
on the T&T Express yesterday.
The vessel returned from dry dock and at-
tempted its first trip yesterday at the Port Au-
thority of T&T tries to ease some of the travel
woes ahead of the busy Easter holiday weekend
and the departure of the Super Fast Galicia after
But the return to service of the T&T Express
did not go according to plan, as the fast ferry left
Port-of-Spain around 8.45 am and only docked at
the Scarborough Port at 1.10pm. It was scheduled
to make its return trip at 12 noon.
The T&T Guardian understands that only
three out of the four engines of the vessel were
functioning when the ferry left Trinidad and
while it attempted to birth at the Scarborough
Port one of the three failed. The ferry was then
taken back to sea, where technicians on board
undertook repairs, allowing the vessel to dock.
The T&T Guardian was reliably informed that
the vessel left Port-of-Spain on three engines
as an overhaul of its engines, which commenced
while it was dry docked, was not completed.
One irate passenger, who did not want to be
identified, confirmed they spent hours out in
the ocean with Tobago in sight. She described
the situation as untenable and called for the au-
thorities to address the matter urgently
“We were at the port since 11 pm on Monday
night because we wanted to make sure we got on
the boat and after not being able to board at 6.30
because of some issue, it was very frustrating. We
were on the sea for hours without any explana-
tion, it’s not until we couldn’t berth, that’s when
the captain came on and said something. We had
so many children and they were sick,” she said.
“They need to do something desperately, be-
cause it’s horrible. It is not a nice experience to
be going through this. Every year it’s the same
thing, same kinds of problem with the boats.”
Contacted for comment on the issue, PATT
communications manager Velma Louis-Cock-
burn confirmed the vessel had a late departure
from Trinidad because the fuel for the trip ar-
rived late. She also said a technical issue caused
challenges at the Scarborough port, but declined
to comment on whether the issue was caused by
malfunctioning engines, saying she had not yet
received a full report on the matter.
Meanwhile, the T&T Spirit continues to func-
tion on all four engines. However, sources say
those engines are not operating at full capacity,
which renders it unable to make the normal two
and half hour crossing time between both islands.
The T&T Spirit is also due for dry docking in
May. (See Page A5 and Editorial on Page A17)
Canada, TT firms in low-income housing drive
Ease ahead for HDC
The signing of a Memoran-
dum of Agreement (MOA)
between Canada-based Wyl-
de Orchid Design and Man-
agement Ltd and local firm
Prime US International Ltd to
construct 120,000 homes in
T&T, is being seen as a solu-
tion to solving the 100,000-
plus Housing Development
Corporation (HDC) applicant
Once constructed, the prices
of these two and three bedroom
homes will range from $650,000 to
$2.5 million and cater specifically to
20,000 single parents and 10,000
senior citizens, while 50,000 will
be used for the government distri-
bution programme. The remaining
40,000 homes will be sold as high-
Construction of the first hous-
ing stock is expected to begin next
February with distribution by year’s
The details of the MOU were
revealed yesterday at a joint press
conference by companies at Cas-
cadia Hotel, St Ann’s.
President and CEO of Wylde
Orchid Designs and Management,
Aneil Singh, said the MOA will be
signed between both firms to kick
start the housing developments in
Prime US International CEO
Stephanie Bonaparte-Primus said
they undertook a housing survey
which showed senior citizens and
single parents did not qualify for
homes, while people who fell in the
age bracket 18-25 were seldom pro-
vided funding to purchase a home.
“In looking at these problems,
we decided to develop a housing
programme to assist,” she said.
Giving details about the joint
said they had set a target to build
110,000 houses in Trinidad over a 15
to 20-year period. Tobago, she said,
would benefit from 10,000 units.
She said construction of these
homes would bring a “solution” for
the 100,000-plus HDC applicants
waiting for shelter.
“Right now, based on how many
houses are produced, it is not
enough for the amount of people.
We will cater for that crowd. We
know for the next ten to 15 years
that crowd should be able to get a
home. This housing project would
be able to have adequate buyers.”
Bonaparte-Primus said the
$650,000 homes will be targeted
primarily for low income earners.
She said one bank has already as-
sessed “the monthly mortgage rate
for a $650,000 home at $2,000
over a 30-year period.” She said
following a meeting they had
with T&T Mortgage Finance, it
was disclosed that 110,000 people
had requested homes at the price
“So there is no shortage of buy-
ers,” she said.
The businesswoman said while
local contractors would benefit
from these projects, 12,000 un-
skilled and skilled jobs are also likely
to be created in the construction
sector. She could not, however, give
the estimated cost of the overall
project since this would be based
on each client’s wants and needs.
As for the land on which the
homes are to be built, Bonapar-
te-Primus said they have been
working with several local real
estate companies that had already
sourced land which had the neces-
“One of the main things is that
we do not want to leave anyone out
in this whole construction arena.
All the various areas of Trinidad, we
have been able to source property
that persons are willing to sell to us.
“ She said several major companies
have already given a commitment
to supply whatever building mate-
rials they need.
“We would be cutting our con-
tracts based on the full scope and
not on a part-by-part assumption,”
She also admitted they have re-
ceived letters of support from Royal
Bank, Republic Bank, JMMB, First
Citizen’s and Eastern Credit Un-
ion, while they have approached
private international funding
agencies, which she would reveal
in the coming months.
Asked if they had approached
the HDC to partner with them on
this initiative, Bonaparte-Primus
said they did not get an opportuni-
ty since they were engaged in talks
with Wylde Orchid for support and
financing in the last few months.
“So we missed that time frame.
So on account of that, this is the
reason why we are making the re-
quest now that someone from the
ministry... can after September...
when we have direct specifics on
where we building, what projects,
what housing...that we sit with
them and negotiate with them to
supply them with homes.”
Apart from housing, Bonapar-
te-Primus said they would also
undertake an agriculture and trad-
ing initiative which would create
a downstream affect and boost
T&T’s flagging economy.
Prime US International CEP Stephanie Bonaparte-Primus, left,
shakes the hand of Wylde Orchid Designs and Management
president and CEO Aneil Singh during yesterday’s press conference.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Contacted on the announcement
yesterday, Housing Minister
Randall Mitchell welcomed the
“Any firm willing to contribute
such foreign direct investing into
our economy, and especially for
such a noble cause, is most wel-
come,” Mitchell wrote in a text
message response as he was in
Parliament at the time.
He said the firms “can partner
with the ministry and HDC by
registering as a land developer
or a trader in houses, for the
purpose of benefiting from the
tax incentives which was an-
nounced by Minister of Finance
Mitchell said the firms’ custom-
ers can also benefit from the
very affordable mortgage pro-
grammes offered by the TTMF.
“Lastly, thousands of applicants
on the HDC’s database should
immediately be attracted to such
an offering,” he said.
Admitting he had no details of
the plan, Mitchell said his com-
ments were based on the as-
sumption that the firms intend
to build affordable housing units
in the country.
He promised to speak more on
the issue today.
Also yesterday, HDC corporate
communications manager Maris-
sa Findley confirmed that they
currently had a roughly 100,000
applicant waiting list.
MINISTER WELCOMES INITIATIVE
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