Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2017 Contents news A5
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 guardian.co.tt
caught in chaos
The Prime Minister's security
detail and other members of his
entourage were amongpassengers
who were told to disembark the
T&T Express yesterday morning
at the Scarborough Port, follow-
ing the sudden cancellation of its
sailing to Trinidad.
However, at about 4.41 pm pas-
sengers finally boarded for sailing to
Trinidad after the technical problem
which forced the delay was rectified.
The initial sailing of the vessel was
scheduled for 6.30 am and expected to
arrive in Port-of-Spain (PoS) at 10.30
am yesterday. It was then expected to
depart PoS at 4 pm and arrive back in
Scarborough at about 8 pm. However,
the return sailing was cancelled due to
the issues with the vessel.
This latest development came less
than 12 hours after Prime Minister Dr
Keith Rowley met with the Tobago
stakeholders regarding the collapsed
sea bridge, including the failed pro-
curement of the Ocean Flower 2 from
Bridgemans Services Group.
Yesterday's delay and cancellation
caused much frustration for passen-
gers, especially the ones who visited
Tobago over the weekend for the an-
nual Great Race weekend festivities.
Many of them attempted to make
alternative arrangements on the air
bridge, but the T&T Guardian was
told there were no available flights to
Trinidad from ANR Robinson Inter-
national Airport due to full bookings.
The standby list had exceeded 150 up
to press time.
Passengers described the situation
at the Scarborough Port yesterday as
Contacted earlier yesterday, head of
communications at T&T Inter-island
Transportation Limited, Vilma Lew-
is-Cockburn, confirmed that electrical
issues had caused the delay to the T&T
Express sailing and that passengers
were eventually asked to disembark.
At about 4.40 pm, Lewis-Cockburn
said the problem had been rectified
and passengers had re-boarded for
Speaking to the T&T Guardian under
strict anonymity, a port worker said
passengers were hurling abusive lan-
guage in frustration when they were
made aware of the issue.
"People with their children, their
babies, sitting all on the ground frus-
trated. They don't even know when
they will get to go home after their
little relax time. They stressed out.
People cussing and quarrelling, beg-
ging for the sea bridge to be properly
functional without hiccups. It really is
a sad sight."
When contacted for comment yes-
terday, president of the Tobago Cham-
ber of Industry and Commerce Demi
John Cruickshank said it was time for
the vessel to be "dry docked."
Asked if he thought the problem
yesterday could have been an act of
sabotage, given that the PM's official
vehicles and officials were on board
and he had just discussed the issue the
day before with Tobago stakeholders,
Cruickshank laughed and said: "I am
happy that the PM and his people are
feeling, first hand, the effect of what we
Tobago people feel and go through on
a daily basis,but sabotage is not some-
thing I would want to put on the table."
He added: "Those vessels are very
old and due for dry dock. I mean,
literally, the T&T Express due for an
overhaul. Given the vessel's age I hope
it is serviced properly."
Former transport minister Devant
Maharaj weighed in on this latest
development yesterday, describing
it as "continued incompetence and
"Tobago is now essentially cut off
from Trinidad. This administration,
headed by a Tobago-born Prime
Minister that campaigned on a ticket
of good governance and transparency,
has continued to bungle and botch the
Tobago sea and air bridge connections
without taking responsibility. The
Prime Minister continues to protect
the line minister, who has only dis-
tinguished himself in making excuses
and passing the blame," Maharaj said.
The T&T Express, built in 1997,
was purchased by the government
and commissioned into service on
December 27, 2006.
Rowley's claim curious,
The Tobago Chamber of Com-
merce says it is "very concerning"
that the Prime Minister is now say-
ing he felt there was something
crooked in the procurement of
the Ocean Flower 2 and the Cabo
Star,given that it was "his Govern-
ment and his Minister of Works and
Transport who oversaw it."
President of the Tobago Chamber
Demi John Cruickshank told the T&T
Guardian yesterday that in light of what
the Prime Minister said, "we now await
the outcome of the investigation to see
who was responsible, but the whole
unveiling of everything is concerning."
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
met with stakeholders in Tobago on
Monday and following that meeting
he spoke with the media. Asked if he
was convinced that something hadgone
drastically wrong and crooked in the
transaction, the PM responded "Yes."
Pressed for qualification on the
matter he said, "I just answered that
question. I said yes, my yes means a
lot to me."
Cruickshank said arising out of the
meeting the PM had asked Tobago
West Member of Parliament Ayanna
Webster-Roy to "set up a stakehold-
ers' committee involving business,
the Tobago House of Assembly and
Central Government to meet as often
He said a similar committee was set
up by now deceased prime minister
Patrick Manning, where interest groups
were able to bring issues and concerns
to the table for them to be addressed.
Asked how soon the committee will
be set up, he said that was up to Web-
Cruickshank said while they were
satisfied some of their concerns were
being addressed they left the meeting
"still concerned that there is no fast
Works andTransport Minister Rohan
Sinanan also told the T&T Guardian he
had concerns about what transpired.
He said, "I too had called for a full
report from the Port Authority even
before the Prime Minister called for his."
Sinanan said "there is a lot of mis-
information in the public domain
and people must be concerned. Some
party members were also raising con-
cerns in the public domain." It was for
this reason he said he called for a full
report from the Port, "because I felt
somequestions needed tobe answered."
Sinanan's request to the Port was
made two weeks ago. He said he wanted
answers on the "procurement and can-
cellation of the ferry." He did not want
to divulge details of the time line given
by the Port to submit its report, but said
he expected "it would be in before the
On August 1, Sinanan also appointed
a three-man team with a mandate to
look at several issues at the Port,includ-
ing"security, the ferry service, how did
we get here and the whole operations
of the port because I recognise that
something needs to be done."
That team has three months to
complete its investigation and submit
Asked how the public could have
confidence in the very same board,
utilising the same procurement pro-
cess in the search for a new vessel, he
said, "I am speaking to the chairman of
the Port on the issue of procurement."
While he did not want to divulge de-
tails, he said he expected that a "much
more stringent process will be put in
place" in the search for a passenger
Sinanan also would not say wheth-
er he expected Port chairman Allison
Lewis to take a more hands-on ap-
proach in the process.
But he was optimistic that at the end
of the investigations being done by
Mouttet, the Joint Select Committee
in Parliament and the report he him-
self had asked for Port for, that "we will
know whether the Port board breached
anything. I cannot assume the Port did
anything, that is why I called for a re-
port even before the Prime Minister
appointed an investigator."
Electricial issues delay T&T Express
President of the Tobago Chamber of
Industry and Commerce Demi John
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