The Port Authority acted responsibly and in the country's best interests, to find replacement vessels for the Super Fast Galicia on the domestic seabridge. These were the views expressed by Port chairman Alison Lewis and deputy chairman Adrian Beharry to members of the Parliament's Land and Physical Infrastructure Joint Select Committee at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre yesterday.
Noting the abrupt departure of the Galicia from the seabridge, Lewis explained, "A number of things had to be done in short order." She said while the Authority would have preferred a longer time frame within which to procure a replacement, it "did not have that luxury." Beharry agreed with Lewis as he explained how the Atlantic Provider and Trinity Transporter barge were brought in to fill the gap left by the Galicia. He said owners of the Transporter initially asked a fee of US$12,000 per day. However Beharry said that fee was reduced to US$8,000 per day. In addition, he said there was no mobilisation fee as the Transporter and its associated tug were already in TT.
On the Atlantic Provider, Beharry said its daily fee was reduced from US$14,500 to US$14,000 per day. Again, Beharry said there was no mobilisation fee or any other associated cost with the Provider. Comparing this to the Galicia which incurred the additional expenses such as tug and barge services and civil engineering works, Beharry said the Port's ability to get the Provider and the Transporter were "extremely economical for our purposes." He added that draft contracts were prepared for both vessels. The total cost for the Provider from April 23 to July 23 was $ 11.6 million. The Transporter incurred a total cost of $6.2 million for its period of operation, April 23 to July 16.
Lewis said the Port gets regular reports on the Cabo Star cargo vessel from its operators. She said the Port has brought concerns raised by the vessel's users to the operators and, "those things have been done at their cost." Lewis disclosed there has been a lot of interest in the tender process for a fast ferry, which closes on September 28. She reiterated that Government is looking at acquiring a new cargo vessel and this could take three years to build.
In response to a question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark, Lewis said the Authority does not have copies of Cabinet minutes of decisions taken regarding the procurement of vessels for the seabridge. She explained that while the Port provides information for those notes, it is informed by the Works and Transport Ministry of these decisions.