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Saturday 16 December 2017
Local

Ocean Flower II anchors off Gasparee Islands

Ocean Flower II

UPDATED:

The Ocean Flower 2, captained by Allan Koitnae and containing 12 crew members docked in waters off Gasparee Islands, Chaguaramas yesterday. It arrived from Curacao after setting sail from Panama. The vessel’s journey began in July from Pusan in South Korea. Before reaching TT, the vessel had stops in Japan, Alaska and Mexico.

The vessel docked at about 12 pm. Shortly before 1 pm, officers from the Immigration and Customs Department boarded it to review the captain’s documents. The captain said the vessel was due for dry docking and a decision was taken to proceed to Chaguaramas which offers such services.

This was subsequently confirmed by the Works and Transport Ministry. The vessel is owned by Bridgemans Services Group (BSG) of Canada. Efforts to contact BSG vice-president Andrew Purdey about the vessel’s arrival and whether it will be used on the seabridge were unsuccessful. Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan maintained the vessel’s contract had been terminated by the Port Authority.

“I have no information as to why they are here,” he said. Sinanan added he only knew about the arrival from media reports. The vessel’s agent Ken Shipping and Maritime Services could not be reached for comment yesterday. Port Authority chairman Alison Lewis declined comment, indicating she is out of the country. The ministry said there have been comments about a letter of credit signed by the Port Authority with its bankers, as part of the previous contractual arrangement with BSG for the Ocean Flower II’s charter. The ministry said this letter of credit cannot be drawn down by BSG, “as a result of the termination of the contract.”

The ministry said the letter of credit will come to an end “at its natural effluxion” next September. The ministry said, “The interests of the public are not in any way exposed or compromised.”

POOR BOAT TIRED

During a public hearing of the Parliament’s Land and Physical Infrastructure joint select committee (JSC) at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre, Opposition Senator Wade Mark told former Head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas about the vessel’s arrival.

Dumas replied, “The poor boat is tired. it needs to be dry docked.” Mark also claimed there was an irrevocable US$2 million letter of credit from First Citizens Bank pertaining to the vessel’s procurement. Dumas said the letter could have legal force despite the vessel’s contract being cancelled. Dumas said this, “ might have caused a change of heart on the part of those responsible.”

He said the Ocean Flower 2 could only be in TT for dry docking or it might be operating on the seabridge, “in the not too distant future.” However Dumas added, “All we can do is speculate.” He said Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s comments about corruption at the port were not new.
“The port has been known as the place, where if you want to make money fast, you go and work there.”

Dumas added, “Overtime is given for work never done.” Noting Government recently established a three-member committee to look at the port’s operations, Dumas said, “There have been many investigations of the port.”

He said that despite all of these investigations and associated recommendations, people continue to say how corrupt the port is. Saying this situation is not just the fault of successive governments over time, Dumas said, “Something has to be seriously wrong with us. We need to go to a good psychologist.”

Dumas also lamented, “The Public Service that I know, does not exist to some extent.” He said the Public Service is one of several institutions which are collapsing.

He said most government ministers give permanent secretaries oral instructions and it was the latter’s responsibility to ask for those instructions in writing, if they have any concerns.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Ocean Flower II steered by its captain Allan Koitnae and 12 crew members is docked in waters off Gasparee Islands, Chaguaramas. It arrived from Curacao after setting sail from Panama.

Government had cancelled a charter agreement with Canadian firm Bridgemans Services Group for the passenger vessel after Port Authority engineers said it was not seaworthy. The boat was for use on the Tobago seabridge.

The acquisition of the Ocean Flower II and cargo carrier the MV Cabo Star is the subject of several probes, including one by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament which continued on Wednesday.

The vessel docked at about 12 pm and shortly before 1 pm officers from the Immigration and Customs Department boarded it to review the captain's documents.

The captain said the vessel was due for dry docking and a decision was taken to proceed to Chaguaramas which offers such professional services.

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