Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 27th 2017 Contents news A5
Saturday, May 27, 2017 guardian.co.tt
PM apologises for
sea bridge woes
The Port Authority's fast ferries---the T&T
Express and T&T Spirit---have suffered "human
interference" and data on their maintenance
have also been removed among other problems,
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said.
"Government has to make some significant in-
terventions at the Port Authority and Government
will not hesitate to make those interventions," Rowley
warned at a media briefing at Parliament yesterday.
He said he knew a little more about the situation
taking place with the port's problems than the public
did. He apologised to Tobagonians for the ferry service
problems, acknowledging it is very troublesome and
But he said there are serious problems at the port
and Government is dealing with those.
"By the time I return (from my Chile trip) I'll say
more on that," he added.
Rowley said as long as he was PM he wouldn't allow
people to continue having their way and "bleeding"
the Treasury, as they had for too long.
Government is ordering construction of a new ves-
sel and two fast ferries. This will take several years.
In the interim, a short-term leased vessel will serve
Tobago as the T&T Spirit and T&T Express go on
dry dock soon.
He said both operated without maintenance for a
long time, were damaged and broke down frequently.
Rowley said US$7 million was paid annually for 11
years for the vessels.
Since they have no maintenance data, he said Gov-
ernment has sent to the Australian manufacturers to
advise the port how to proceed. After a long period of
dry docking, he said they should give a fair amount
of service with maintenance.
Rowley's comments on the ferries came even as the
planned return of the T&T Spirit to the sea bridge
has been delayed. The Port Authority said the vessel
will "remain out of service to complete works to its
The Spirit was originally scheduled to return to
service on Monday, but with the announcement it
means that the T&T Express will continue to be the
sole vessel operating the inter-island route. The water
taxi will be added to the service next Tuesday the
Indian Arrival Day Holiday.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan told
the T&T Guardian yesterday that both the Express
and the Spirit "need to be taken out of service for
more than a few weeks, they need a proper overhaul."
A discussion he said had already been held with the
Manufacturer INCAT, and "they are sending someone
to help us, they will be here next week."
No action on Smith for now
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley expects
to complete his review of the report on
Sports Minister Darryl Smith's contro-
versial Tobago trip in the "not-too-dis-
tant future" and determine what action
Rowley confirmed this yesterday at a media
briefing during the Parliamentary tea break,
where he also poke about his Chile state visit,
starting tomorrow and upcoming "action" at
the Port Authority of T&T. (See page 6)
Rowley addressed Smith's $92,000 Tobago
trip as well as Tourism Minister Shamfa Cud-
joe's $59,000 Bahamas cell phone bill - issues
which have put his Government under scrutiny
and facing criticism in some cases.
Smith has been under fire for undertaking
the trip to attend the Tobago House of Assem-
bly Sports Awards function last weekend and
staying at the Magdalena Grand.
The PM had sought and received a report on
the issue from Smith on Thursday. Yesterday,
Rowley said he'd received a lot of information on
the matter and added he was very disappointed
at reports coming out on the Sports Ministry.
"But I wasn't overwhelmed by it as I'm lead-
ing a young Cabinet and I have a responsibility
to ensure they're guided in the appropriate way,"
Rowley said he thought he'd been doing that,
but maybe not enough guidance would have
fallen into the Sports Ministry.
"I take responsibility for that," he said.
The PM admitted there was a bit of extrav-
agance in the Tobago issue.
"I make no apology for that. When I reached
out to young people to come forward and take
responsibility for this country, I will hold them
responsible for taking on that assignment."
But he said he hoped the country as well as his
Cabinet team will appreciate T&T's economic
While the PM said he "didn't want us to
overdo the condemnation," he also noted that
during Local Government campaigning he'd
made the point that taxpayers' money wasn't
available to office holders to have a good time,
"there's no amount of justification (for that)."
Rowley said he for instance, had never had
a meal in the Office of the Prime Minister and
didn't know where they served meals. He said
he didn't have breakfast, lunch or dinner at the
Prime Minister's residence, and would only par-
take if his family was there or he specifically
asked for something.
"But the bottom line is things will happen
and when they happen, the requisite action will
be taken," he emphasised.
In Cudjoe's case, Rowley said he could have
also incurred a huge phone bill during his Ghana
trip if the Parliament's clerk hadn't informed
him of data issues with cell phones and the
need to turn the data roaming aspect off. He
said it was required education for government
personnel handling phones.
He said he was sure Cudjoe wasn't the only
one in the situation and one might find a "whole
lot more" in the system As a result, he said he
intends to ask an experienced public servant to
come up with a phone management protocol.
Rowley also assured Government was at-
tempting to ensure waste, mismanagement
and corruption was outlawed. He noted some
Works Ministry tenders have come in at 15 per
cent lower than estimates.
He also dismissed criticism of the Smith and
Cudjoe issues by former prime ministers Basdeo
Panday and Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
"I find it quite preposterous," he said, not-
ing the Piarco Aiport matter in Panday's tenure
and issues which dogged Persad-Bissessar's
"... And you tell me a phone bill of $59,000
which is largely accidental and a handful of
people in Tobago who had too much taxpay-
ers' food or comfort at the Magdalena equates
to corruption in T&T as we had been experi-
encing? I beg to differ...gimme a break." (See
editorial on Page A18)
Noting that expenditure numbers on elec-
tives have declined significantly, Rowley said
he wouldn't accept from his predecessors that
what "went on" in their tenure is happening
"So let's keep the conversation real ..."
Ferry sabotage costs State $$
Port Authority of T&T chairman Alison
Lewis says she intends to request a copy of
a report submitted in December last year
which alleged acts of sabotage on the T&T
Express --- the lone passenger vessel now
operating the sea-bridge which has been
hit with major mechanical setbacks.
"I am going to ask for it. I will discuss it with
the rest of the board of commissioners and
discuss a course of action," Lewis told the T&T
The report was compiled by manager of the
Inter-Island Ferry Service, Scipio Hosam, three
months after Bay Ferries --- the Canadian com-
pany which had been contracted for 11 years to
maintain the fast ferries --- left the country. It
was submitted to the acting general manager
of the port Charmaine Lewis, who expressed
concern at several acts of sabotage which were
identified on the T&T Express.
In the report, under confidential cover dated
December 21, 2016, Hosam informed Lewis that
"several major problems" had been identified.
According to the report, there was salt water
contamination of fuel; valves to sewerage pump
were closed causing the new pump to burn out;
foreign bolts were found in cylinder head; valves
on steering system closed off, causing steering
problems. To rectify those problems would cost
the state millions.
Hosam said external contractors were brought
in to work on the vessel, but there was concern
that "appropriate protocols were not followed"
because of the lack of documented information
on everything which was done on the vessels.
In view of the sabotage concerns, Hosam said
"measures have been put in place to ensure con-
tractors have a permit to access the vessels." This
was to ensure that the port would have records
of who had access to the vessels.
Hosam, who was seconded to the port as
maintenance manager of the ferry service
from the National Gas Company, also stated
"the apparent acts of sabotage are a cause for
concern and additional security strategies must
be immediately assessed and implemented to
ensure the security of passengers, crews and
Yesterday, Port chairman Lewis told the T&T
Guardian that when the new board took up of-
fice, "a request was made for CCTV cameras
She said some people had raised some issues
about sabotage and "I am asking if they have
evidence," but she said she had not been aware
a report existed. Lewis assured that if "any ev-
idence of sabotage is found we will deal with
it, we will have it investigated and if people are
culpable they will be held to account and if its
a criminal offence the police will be called in."
Contacted yesterday, Seamen and Waterfront
Workers Trade Union president Michael Ann-
isette said he was unaware of the confidential
report. He said "if such serious allegations are
being made, the union should have been made
privy to the information. I am disappointed over
the fact that the union is now hearing about
speculative sabotage through the media and
there has been no discussion with the union."
Annisette said if in fact there is sabotage "that
is a criminal act in the maritime world, trying to
sabotage any vessel that carries passengers and
the very crew and if anybody should attempt to
compromise it that is a serious criminal offence
that requires the full weight of the law."
The first hint of concerns over sabotage came
from Works and Transport Minister Rohan
Sinanan on Tuesday, but he made no specific
reference to anything.
Report: Bolts thrown in engine
Sport Minister Darryl Smith during yesterday's sitting of Parliament in Port-of-Spain
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
PM disappointed at Tobago extravagance but
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