The manipulation of ferry procurement resulted in the current crisis, alleged Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) head Michael Annisette to the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on the seabridge on Monday in Tower D, Port-of-Spain.
He traced the root of current ferry woes to a mysterious removal of an exit clause from the contract to hire the Warrior Spirit (known as a charter-party), so the Port Authority couldn’t terminate the contract for non-performance, despite the boat limping along on just one engine and taking 15 hours on the sea-bridge.
Alleging a failure of due diligence (proper research before contracting), he asked, “Why was the exit clause excised?” Annisette then contrasted two different stances on signing the charter-party. He bemoaned that no charter-party was ever signed for the Super Fast Galicia, saying such a contract would have prevented this ship from suddenly leaving TT.
By contrast, seemingly referring to the Ocean Flower II and/or Cabo Star, Annisette lamented that a charter-party was signed even before the vessel(s) reached TT and had undergone sea-trials. “That is unheard of. I’d like that to be investigated,” he demanded. Annisette concluded, “In my view this thing was calculated and designed to have this result. Nobody could change my mind. I and my executive spoke to Minister (Rohan) Sinanan and I warned him of the consequences of not signing a charter-party agreement. He said ‘They could go! Nobody’s holding this Government to ransom. They have vessels outside there’.”
Blaming Sinanan, Annisette said, “If the vessel left under your watch you should be man enough to take responsibility for the chaos that the leaving of the Galicia caused.” Alluding Sinanan had erred, Annisette said six ships submitted for tender had all failed. Annisette cryptically alleged that four months before the arrival in TT of the Atlantic Provider the union had known it was due.