The newest vessel in the national fleet of ferries, the APT James. Image courtesy the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO)

“Political mischief”, is how the Works and Transport Minister is describing claims that the incoming fast ferry the APT James is not safe, and he has confirmed that Government will hire security to ensure the vessel is not sabotaged.

Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, Minister Rohan Sinanan said the vessel is expected to arrive this weekend, and he expects it will be in operation at month’s end.

Notwithstanding the newness of the vessel, the Opposition Leader read out a report earlier this week that highlighted six deficiencies.  Questioning its seaworthiness, Kamla Persad Bissessar SC MP said they included a lack of proper certification and documents, missing fire safety equipment and a lack of proper structural access points to vital areas of the ship.

However, Minister Sinanan said those issues are minor and are not vessel specific problems, but operational in nature—such as incomplete paperwork, and data not being entered in the electronic system despite having a paper-based backup.

With respect to the reportedly missing fire detection and alarm system, Minister Sinanan said that is a minor issue that has been addressed.

“This is a consumable item,” he explained.  “It is a cannister and a heat gun that sends out heat to the cannister.  You put it next to the fire detector, you press it and you make sure that it works.  It has nothing to do with the fire alarm system.”

Meanwhile, Minister Sinanan said he expects that people opposed to the government may try to sabotage the new vessel.  He said it has been done before, but this time, they are prepared.

“They have been doing it,” the minister said.  “Remember the Cabo Star?  They tried everything to ensure it would not reach Tobago.  We had to put additional security and we’ll do the same with the two new vessels that will be arriving soon.”

Minister Sinanan said the half a billion-dollar vessel has passed all inspections and he is guided by the expert’s advice.