Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2017 Contents A3
August 11 - 2017
Scrapped Ocean Flower deal angers Hadad...
Something's not right
Chairman of the Inter-island Transport
Committee Dianne Hadad says the sea
bridge crisis has destroyed the economy of
Commenting on the termination of the
contract with the Ocean Flower 2 on Wednes-
day, Hadad said the passenger vessel was
bombarded with negativity from the start.
The vessel was originally expected to arrive
on July 17, while an extension was granted
for a July 26 arrival, but the owners alleg-
edly failed to meet the deadlines.
During his announcement of the termi-
nation due to breach of contract, Minister
of Transport Rohan Sinanan insisted that
the decision came in accordance with the
terms and conditions of the contract with
the owners of the vessel, Bridgemans Ser-
vices Group. He said the Ocean Flower 2,
which was still in Panama on Wednesday,
had failed to meet the delivery date, while
the subsequent extension was not met.
However, during an interview SKY 99.5,
Hadad rejected the minister's explanation
"The fact that they had to cancel the con-
tract means that something is radically wrong
and it has nothing to do with the fact that
they did not meet the specifics of coming
on time, because up to last night the only
information that I got was that the boat
having to dry dock in Panama. Why would
a boat, before it even got to us have to dry
Describing the situation as the strangest
transaction the country ever engaged in,
Hadad said all decisions were made without
thinking about the impact it would have on
Tobago stakeholders. She is therefore calling
for those responsible for the predicament to
"This is the strangest transaction that
Trinidad and Tobago probably ever did and
I'm going back to the meeting we held with
the Minister at Mt. Irvine, prior to the Gali-
cia leaving and we indicated to him what
needed to happen and up to that time, the
owners of the Galicia were willing to do
business with Trinidad and Tobago, so again
I am not leaving it alone as to why are we
here today, in spite of all that was said to
the Minister and his team," Hadad said.
"We were told that all of these profes-
sionals, and this was what was brought to
us, I think a lot of people, have a lot of
things to answer and a lot of people need
to be resigning, because this only puts anoth-
er hole in Tobago's pocket," she said.
Commenting on the operations of the
cargo vessel the Cabo Star (also leased by
Bridgemans), which commenced operations
on the sea bridge on July 23, Hadad said the
vessel was not working at its optimum
"The Cabo Star is not performing to the
specs that were told to us. It is not on sched-
ule as yet, it is still keeping us up at ridic-
ulous hours in the night," she said
Meanwhile, former Port Authority of T&T
board member Ferdie Ferriera believes more
information is needed from the Bridgemans
Group about their failure to deliver the ves-
sel on time.
"It would be interesting to find out from
the agents of the vessel or the owners, what
was responsible for its failure to deliver in
accordance with its contractual obligations.
We have not heard that yet," he said.
Ferreira said sea trials were conducted after
the contract was awarded and he is ques-
tioning the reasons why such a decision was
"During the period of the delay, two sen-
ior members of the port were sent up to
Panama to conduct sea trials and he said
this was done post contract. From my expe-
rience, it should be the other way around,
before we enter any contract, we should
conduct and make sure, with the advice of
the marine experts, that everything is on all
fours before we sign this contract. Obvious-
ly there is always human error, something
would happen, but then the delay... so it
means that something went wrong," he said.
Up to yesterday, Tobago House of Assem-
bly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles and Sec-
retary of Tourism, Culture and Transporta-
tion Nadine Stewart-Phillips had not made
any statements on the issue.
Lewis will walk if process not above board
Port Authority of T&T (PATT)
chairman Alison Lewis says if the
process by which the now termi-
nated contract for Ocean Flower
2 was procured was not done
above board, she will be the first
person to tender her resignation.
In fact, she has no qualms in
ordering an independent investi-
gation into the matter to allay
public concerns over it either.
Hours after Works and Transport
Minister Rohan Sinanan made the
announcement of the decision to
cancel the deal on Wednesday,
Lewis said if any independent
investigation proves her board did
not follow proper procurement
procedures in awarding Canadi-
an-based ferry service provider
Bridgemans Services Group the
contract, she will be the first to
tender her resignation.
"I have no problems in calling
for an investigation. If an inde-
pendent investigation shows that
the board of the Port Authority
acted in contravention of any law
or we knowingly breached any law,
we will walk. I will be the first in
line to walk," Lewis told the T&T
Guardian when asked if her board
would be willing to call for an
investigation to show there was
transparency and accountability in
the granting of the contract.
In July, the vessel was leased for
one year at a daily charter rate of
US$26,500 (TT$185,500), but the
port terminated the deal with the
vessel three weeks late on its July
15 arrival deadline date.
Lewis insisted: "We have done
nothing illegal or untoward in the
circumstances. We had approvals
for everything that we did."
Her comment came even as fresh
questions were raised about the
suitability of the Bridgemans Ser-
vices Group to undertake the con-
The revelation led to Opposition
Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
describing the cancellation as "a
scandal of the highest order, which
reeks of mismanagement and cor-
ruption and warrants a police
said it was not enough to simply
cancel the contract, as Prime Min-
ister Dr Keith Rowley must account
to its citizens.
With the T&T Spirit currently
in dry dock, the Ocean Flower 2
now out of the picture and T&T
Express in dire need of mainte-
nance service, Lewis said PATT
was "running a serious risk with
respect to the sea bridge."
Asked when the country would
have a replacement vessel, Lewis
had no answer.
"I can't say in one day, three
days or a week."
To fill the void, Lewis said the
water taxi and cargo vessel Cabo
Star would have to pick up the
"We are going to have to opti-
mise what we have right now."
Lewis said she expects to face
heavy criticism from stakeholders
and the public for not providing
an efficient service, but said she
was used to receiving blows. Stat-
ing that from day one the contract
had been riddled in bacchanal,
Lewis assured that not "one red
cent" had been paid to Bridgemans
Services for the vessel.
"I don't know why it is shroud-
ed in controversy. All I can say is
that the information we have,
including the company's leases and
the attorney's assertions, were sub-
mitted to the Port Authority."
She said Bridgemans Services is
a company that had "the author-
ity to trade and to offer the vessel
for the service." The vessel was
offered to PATT and evaluated by
the tenders committee and "on the
basis of that there was an engage-
ment," Lewis added.
Asked if PATT did a background
check on the company to find out
if they provided ferry services,
Lewis said, "It was not specifical-
ly done with respect to whether it
was a ferry service."
Lewis said a lot of the propos-
als sent to PATT were not from
ferry services, but companies who
had ferries, as well as brokers. She
also said there was a lot of mis-
information and "lies" that have
been circulating in the public
domain. (Trinidad Guardian)
Port Authority Chairman Alison
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