A total of 47 people have been summoned to appear before the Land and Physical Infrastructure joint select committee (JSC) of the Parliament in its enquiry into the problems on the domestic seabridge. Among those scheduled to appear during the course of three hearings scheduled by the JSC are Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles; former transport minister Stephen Cadiz, Bridgemans Services Group vice-president Andrew Purdey and THA Minority Leader Watson Duke. Two of the hearings will take place on September 4 and 5 at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre. Both of these hearings begin at 1 pm
The third hearing will take place at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough on September 6. In the case of this hearing, the discussions on the seabridge start at 1 pm. At 9 am on September 6, the JSC will hold an enquiry on the state of agriculture and fisheries in Tobago at the complex. All of these hearings take place before the resumption of Parliament with a sitting of the House of Representatives scheduled for September 8. The sitting will not be a ceremonial one as the Parliament is returning from its mid-year recess.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the Parliament, 36 people are scheduled to appear before the JSC at Tower D on September 4 and 5. The Parliament said the people appearing before the JSC will not do so in any particular order. Permanent Secretary from the Works and Transport Ministry Sonia Francis-Yearwood and other ministry officials; Port Authority chairman Alison Lewis and the Authority's current board; former Port chairman Christine Sahadeo and members of the former port board and TV6 reporter Mark Bassant.
On September 5, the JSC will interview 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.
Charles and Duke will feature amongst the 11 people to appear before the JSC in Scarborough. On Monday, Duke swam for about an hour in the waters between Tobago and Toco to protest the problems on the seabridge. Former Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Dianne Hadad; members of the Inter-Isle Truckers and Traders Association and members of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association are also scheduled to appear before the JSC in Scarborough on September 6.
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 JSC, which is chaired by Independent Senator Stephen Creese.
On August 15, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that Cabinet appointed businessman Christian Mouttet as sole investigator into the procurement of the Cabo Star and the Ocean Flower 2 vessels for the seabridge. Mouttet, who has already met with the Port Authority and Purdey, is to submit a report to Rowley within 30 days. Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said based on the recommendations of Mouttet's report, the appropriate action will be taken. Young also said the Port Authority is not conducting an investigation into the procurement of these vessels. The Integrity Commission is also undertaking an enquiry into this matter, based on a complaint made by former minister Devant Maharaj.