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Sunday 22 October 2017
News

Make lease agreements public

The Movement of Social Justice (MSJ) has joined the call for Government to make public all details of the procurement process of the cargo vessel Cabo Star and passenger vessel Ocean Flower 2.

The MSJ is also calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, “who is supposed to be manning the bridge of SS Trinidad and Tobago to make a definitive statement on this imbroglio” said MSJ Political Leader David Abdulah. “We must be informed as to how Bridgemans came to the attention of the Port (Authority of Trinidad and Tobago) and the Ministry (Of Works and Transport) and how was it contracted to provide the vessels,” he said.

The entire lease agreement, he said, must be placed in the public domain. “We must be informed as to what comparable costs of vessels are on the open market globally. We must see all the reports on this issue as well as all the correspondence between the Port Authority (of Trinidad and Tobago) and the Ministry (of Works and Transport)/Minister of Works and Transport,” he said.

Abdulah said that someone must be held to account for this imbroglio. “We cannot just ‘move on’ from one crisis to another, with no consequences. If a police officer can be suspended for what some deem ‘rude photos’, then someone must be held to account for the suffering of tens of thousands of citizens when the sea-bridge collapses,” he said.

Without a sea bridge, he said, “the lives of Tobagonians in particular becomes a living hell as they cannot commute to Trinidad at an affordable price and in safety, comfort and with certainty in order to transact business which can only be done in Trinidad.”

Also, they cannot attend classes at tertiary institutions or to go to work in Trinidad, he said.

On the other hand, Abdulah said, Trinidadians cannot travel to Tobago is large numbers for their vacation as the air bridge cannot transport everyone who wants to go there.

This has major negative implications for the tourism sector in Tobago which depends very heavily on Trinidadians to occupy hotels, guest houses and villas and to buy goods and services especially during the long July-August vacation period, he said.

The sea-bridge has been in crisis for the past six months, and if the T&T Express, the only passenger vessel on the route, should conk out, he said, there will be no passenger ferry operating the sea-bridge.

Noting that the Cabo Star is being leased from Bridgemans Services Group which has failed to deliver the Ocean Flower 2 which was contracted to provide the passenger fast ferry, Abdulah said, there are now many questions about the lease and disturbing issues surround the bona fides of Bridgemans.

With the termination of the contract, he said, Government has left the passenger sea-bridge dangerously exposed to collapse.

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