Just shy of a year on the job, chairman of the Port Authority (PATT) Alison Lewis is calling it quits, but Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan is hoping she will reconsider.
“I have heard that the letter has been submitted. I have not actually seen the letter as yet, but I can tell you I will try my best to convince Ms Lewis to continue in the position,” Sinanan told reporters during a tour of the Pt Fortin Highway Extension works along the South Trunk Road in La Romaine.
If she doesn’t reconsider, Sinanan said he would like to thank her for her service, not only to the port but also as a former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance. “She has served this country well and I really do hope she will continue serving,” he said.
Lewis was installed as chairman last April, and has brought some semblance of stability to a tumultuous period of PATT’s recent history, including the termination contracts for the Superfast Galicia, the drydocking of the TT Spirit, the procurement of the Cabo Star (whose one-year lease is almost up), and the procurement of a new passenger ferry, the Galleons Passage, expected at the end of April.
Lewis also had to manage the breakdown of the inter-island ferry over the busy Carnival weekend because of a combination of rough seas and an expired seaworthiness licence.
“People feel the port is just the Tobago sea bridge,” Sinanan said. “That’s only 20 per cent. The Port Authority has to deal with international cargo and shipping. It is much bigger than the Tobago sea bridge but we keep focusing on that,” Sinanan said.
He did, however, acknowledge a need for a better maintenance and replacement schedule for the vessels on the inter-island route, as well as the water taxis. As these vessels age, he noted that maintenance and parts replacement become harder to source. A tender has gone out, he said, for a new maintenance and management company to handle these vessels, because “it is clear to me that we (at the ministry) do not have the capabilities to do it. No one can tell me (otherwise).”