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Monday 23 October 2017
News

JSC hearings begin, Port Authority gets extension

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan yesterday said the Port Authority has been given an extension to complete a report to him regarding operations on the domestic seabridge. Sinanan made the disclosure 24 hours before the Land and Physical Infrastructure Joint Select Committee (JSC) of the Parliament begins the first of three hearings it will hold regarding the seabridge today. The Authority was due to submit its report over the weekend. However Sinanan told Newsday that the Authority has been given "more time" to complete its report. He said he expects the report would be provided to him, "by the end of the week." The minister said some of the issues the Authority is looking at could feature in the JSC's deliberations.

Sinanan also said he has not aware of the status of Cabinet appointed investigator Christian Mouttet's enquiry into the procurement of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 vessels for the seabridge. "He (Sinanan) reports to the Prime Minister," Sinanan said. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced Mouttet's appointment on August 15. Mouttet has been given a 30 day deadline in which to submit a report to Rowley. Sinanan, who will appear before the JSC tomorrow, reiterated that he welcomes any investigation into the procurement of the two vessels.

Efforts to contact Mouttet where unsuccessful but senior government officials indicated that he remains on target to submit his report on time. Last month, Port Authority chairman Alison Lewis confirmed that Mouttet met with the Authority's board of directors and was being provided with documents. Bridgemans Services Group vice-president Andrew Purdey also said he met with Mouttet last month over the course of two days. Purdey said all the information Bridgemans has on the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 were provided to Mouttet. He described Mouttet as "a professional" and said Bridgemans would supply any further information if Mouttet requires them to do so.

A total of 47 people will appear before the JSC between today and Wednesday. Today's hearing and tomorrow's hearing take place from 1 pm at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre. Lewis and members of the Authority's board of directors; former chairman Christine Sahadeo and former board members; Works and Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary Sonia Francis-Yearwood and other ministry officials and TV6 reporter Mark Bassant, are scheduled to appear before the committee today.

In addition to Sinanan, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Fitzgerald Hinds; Cadiz; Purdey; Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union president Michael Annisette; Intercontinental Shipping Limited managing director John Powell; representatives of the TT Inter-Island Transport Company; Ken Shipping and Marine Services Limited managing director Lester Kenny; marine consultant Alfred McMillan and attorney Nyree Alfonso, are due to appear before the JSC tomorrow

On Wednesday, the JSC will continue its enquiry on the seabridge at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough from 1 pm. Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles; THA Minority Leader Watson Duke; former Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Dianne Hadad and representatives from the Inter-Isle Truckers and Traders Association are among the 11 people who will appear before the JSC on Wednesday. Prior to this on Wednesday, the committee will hold an enquiry on the state of agriculture and fisheries in Tobago at the complex at 9 am.

The JSC is chaired by Independent Senator Stephen Creese. Other members include Energy Minister Franklin Khan, Sports Minister Daryl Smith and Opposition Senator Wade Mark.After these hearings, the JSC will compile a report which will be sent to the House for debate. Sinanan will have a certain time period within which to accept or reject the recommendations of the committee.

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