The Port Authority of T&T (PATT) will be chartering a cargo vessel for the Tobago service for three years and will also be buying a new cargo vessel, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan confirmed yesterday.
“This is to ensure the inter-island ferry service would not be jeopardised in the future,” Sinanan said in the Senate while replying to Opposition queries concerning reports about the imminent recall of the Super Fast Galicia cargo vessel from the Tobago ferry service.
The Galicia’s impending departure has caused concern among stakeholders, including business people.
Sinanan said Intercontinental Shipping Ltd had informed the ministry on March 28 that the Galicia would be removed from the service. But he said the ministry has been advised the ferry will be in service over the Easter weekend.
The contract for that vessel’s charter agreement ended on April 30, 2016 and subsequently, month-to-month talks were held on the process thereafter, he added.
Cabinet last month approved a decision for the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) to start processes to charter another vessel for three years via selective tender. Sinanan said this would be completed next month. At the same time, he said PATT was mandated to start processes to purchase a new built cargo vessel to secure the service.
Sinanan said when he became minister last year there had been talks with the current charter operators last December and in January, but they were not interested in an 18-month contract.
“They wanted a five-year contract. Government wasn’t willing to do this. We recognised the need for a new cargo vessel to serve the route efficiently and effectively,” Sinanan said.
He said he had no information that former port chairman Christine Sahadeo had “blocked” any agreement on the matter.
On other Opposition queries, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Stuart Young said the occupation of Chaguaramas Development Authority lands by the Safari Adventure Park was still under review by the CDA and Attorney General.
Young said the CDA didn’t incur any costs due to the visit to the park by Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’s constituents recently. Young said sanctioning the minister didn’t arise.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Gail Alexander)