Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 25th 2017 Contents news A5
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Tenders have closed for a new vessel to take
up the inter-island cargo route and the Port Au-
thority board will go through them tomorrow
and make a determination going forward.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan
could shed no light yesterday on how many tenders
had been received and efforts to reach Port chairman
Allison Lewis were unsuccessful. But Sinanan said
it is now up to the board and tenders committee to
make a recommendation.
While the hunt continues for a vessel to replace the
Galicia, the Atlantic Provider and Trinity Transporter
barge will fill the gap.
The Provider made its maiden voyage to Tobago
on Sunday but president of the Tobago Chamber of
Industry and Commerce Demi John Cruickshank
said it was too early to determine whether it will be
adequate to supply the needs of the island.
However, Cruickshank said they have determined
that "we should be able to get 40 trucks on the ves-
sel. We have to wait and see, however we are not in
support of the barge."
Tenders for a vessel to replace the Galicia closed at
2 pm yesterday and Cruickshank said the chamber
hopes to be updated on this soon. But he again de-
scribed the entire situation as "unfortunate," saying
they had hoped the minister would have acted since
November to ensure what happened did not occur.
"We brought it to his attention that the people were
indicating they did not have a contract and that they
would be leaving. We were hoping that he, having
come from the private sector, would have understood.
But look at where we are today."
Last week, the Government, through attorney Dr
Claude Denbow SC, sent two letters to the Galicia's
local agent, Intercontinental Shipping Ltd (ICSL), in-
dicating it must fulfil its 18-month contract for the
vessel to operate the sea bridge or face legal action.
That contract was due to expire on October 31 this year.
On this issue, Cruickshank said: "I have no idea
about this contract. The people say they don't have a
contract and they taking their vessel. The minister is a
strange fellah. He said the Super Fast Galicia was not
suitable for the run, he said it was costing too much
money and was riddled in corruption so why then
is he insisting that it return? Why if it is inadequate
are you pursuing it? One minute the minister saying
we don't need or want the vessel and all of a sudden
he wants it to stay."
He said Sinanan "should show us the proof of the
corruption that he is speaking about with regard to the
contract, where is the corruption? If there is corrup-
tion we all want to know, stop making the allegation
and come and show us the proof. If not let us move
on and let the matter die a natural death."
Cruickshank said all the business community in
Tobago wants is "a vessel that will reach in four to
five hours and is comfortable to transport adequate
cargo and adequate passengers, we did not ask for
anything more than that."
Leader of the Tobago Forwards Christlyn Moore
meanwhile said Sinanan needs to make the contract
between the Government and Intercontinental public.
Moore said: "The Government talking about pro-
curement, but are the procurement issues on this
boat (Provider) resolved. Was this procured by open
tendering practices or was this sole selection, who
is behind this transport company, and what are the
underlying commercial transactions that are really
going on behind this deal?"
Sinanan defends cost of ferry replacements:
Works and Transport Min-
ister Rohan Sinanan yester-
day justified why the Port Au-
thority of T&T (PATT) had to
pay far more for the rental of
the Trinity Transporter barge
and Atlantic Provider ferry in
comparison to the Super Fast
Sinanan sought to explain the
rationing behind the difference
in costs after several posts on so-
cial media accused his ministry
and PATT of paying far too much
for the rental of the two vessels,
which replaced the Galicia whose
final voyage was Friday.
The daily rate charged for the
Galicia was Euro 14,750, which
amounted to TT$108,000 daily.
The Transporter's daily rate
is US$8,000 (TT$53,00) while
the Provider's costs US$14,000
(TT$97,150), for a combined cost
to taxpayers of TT$150,000 daily
or $42,000 more a day for us-
age of both vessels to operate on
the sea bridge. The two vessels,
which were leased for one month
by PATT, will cost the Govern-
ment $3.7 million for one month
of service but there is an option
to renew the leases for a further
month or two.
Told questions had been raised
about the exorbitant cost of the
vessels yesterday, Sinanan said
Government's back was against
a wall in the matter.
"The reason for this is because
this was an emergency situation.
We found ourselves facing a 14-
day notice with the Galicia," he
"We had to look at the vessels
that were available because we
had to ensure that we had a re-
placement vessels here to make
that Sunday run. Obviously, once
people make their vessels avail-
able knowing fully well it is an
emergency you don't have much
choice... they will charge you a
premium price. Once it is long
term... then the cost is signif-
Sinanan said tenders for the
leasing of a cargo vessel to be
used for the next three years as
a medium term measure closed
yesterday. Asked if the cost of
this vessel could also be far
more than the Galicia, Sinanan
said: "It could also be more or
could be less. The thing about
it is that the Galicia was not
only a price issue, there was
also an issue with the infra-
structure we had. There were
other aspects of the Galicia in
terms of the berthing of it, the
draft, the fact that we could
not get full usage of the vessel."
Sinanan also spoke about the
service offered by the Provid-
er, which sailed to Tobago on
Sunday with ten trucks carry-
ing cargo. The vessel returned to
Port-of-Spain on Sunday night
with 29 cargo trucks.
"Everything worked accord-
ing to plan. The berthing was
normal. So far, we are operat-
ing exactly where we wanted
it to operate. There have been
no disruptions with the cargo
as promised. So far we have not
received any negative feedback."
He said the only problem
was that the Provider takes
three hours longer than Gali-
cia, which sailed for five hours.
He said both vessels berthed at
Queen's Wharf, Port-of-Spain
and not at the waterfront near
the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Giving an update on the Gali-
cia, Sinanan said the matter is
now in the hands of the minis-
try's attorney Claude Denbow,
"They are now looking at the
legal options in going forward.
They (Galicia's agent - Inter-
continental Shipping) would
have breached that contract
now. What happen... part of
their contract was to replace the
Galicia with a suitable vessel so
there would not have been any
interruptions. Right now there
is an interruption.
"We had to go and find two
vessels to ensure that the sea
bridge is serviced. That option
was for them to bring in a vessel
and then they remove the Galicia
from the service. This was not
He promised to visit Tobago
with directors of PATT this to
meet stakeholders there.
Our backs were
against a wall
Acting Permanent Secre-
tary in the Ministry of Fi-
nance with responsibility for
management of the Economic
Division, Suzette Lee Chee,
says State enterprises are ow-
ing Government close to $44
billion in outstanding loans.
She made the disclosure as she
appeared before a Joint Select
Committee for state enterprises
at the International Waterfront
Centre, Port-of-Spain, yester-
day. The committee is chaired
by Independent Senator David
Lee Chee was responding to a
question from JSC member Fazal
In giving a breakdown of the
types of loans, Lee Chee said $25
billion was non-guaranteed and
$19 billion was guaranteed. She
said none of the State enterpris-
es were in arrears nor default-
ing on their loans. She indicat-
ed, however, that the Finance
Ministry was working with the
institutions and enterprises to
Permanent Secretary in the
ministry, Lisa Phillips, told the
JSC the non-guarantee debts
were being serviced "and at this
time we do not have an issue in
terms of the servicing of these
Small said the almost $25 bil-
lion non-guarantee loans were "a
huge debt. It is all debt." He said
there was no issue with the $19
billion debt but the almost 25
billion was a matter of concern.
He said enterprises were
"leaning to refinancing." He
noted that one of the com-
panies which was repaying a
non-guaranteed debt was Petro-
trin. Noting the existing state of
the national oil company, Small
wanted to know what strategies
were being implemented "to help
Government entities manage the
non-guaranteed debts. If entities
start to fall off the rails, what is
Small noted that Petrotrin
was having issues with the cur-
rent oil prices and the ability to
generate revenue to sustain its
Phillips, in response, said:
"Every month we receive a sta-
tus report with respect to the
non-guarantee debts. So we'll
be alerted early o'clock wheth-
er there are any problems (and)
thus far we have had no problems
with servicing the non-guaran-
Phillips added: "We are work-
ing assiduously on refinancing if
possible that (Petrotrin) debt."
She insisted that the
non-guaranteed loan repay-
ments were "under control."
State enterprises owe Govt $44bn
Tenders for new
Works and Transport Minister Rohan
Sinanan with the operators of the barge
Trinity Transporter during a tour at the
Port-of-Spain Port over the weekend.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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