ON the eve of the MV Galleons Passage’s long awaited arrival in TT, Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday rejected claims from the Opposition that the vessel was adrift and riddled with some 38 defects. The claims were also rejected by the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) at a news conference at its San Juan offices. Chairman Herbert George said Nidco sent no barge and tug to refuel the Galleons Passage as alleged by former minister Devant Maharaj on social media.
Maritime Services Inspector Ronald Alfred said a report from Tsunami Marine Ltd which the Opposition used to allege the vessel had 38 defects, was incomplete. Alfred said the report was done in the absence of stability reports which were unavailable to its author. Nidco has those reports which show the Galleons Passage is “100 per cent safe for operation in TT waters.” Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan found it curious these claims emerged on the eve of today’s by-elections in Belmont East and Barataria.
Sinanan also disclosed that within the next week, Cabinet will make a decision on new fast ferries for the seabridge. The first of these ferries could be in TT by mid-2020. Maharaj alleged the Galleons Passage ran out of fuel and is drfiting off Venezuela. At a news conference in Port of Spain, Opposition Senators Wade Mark and Saddam Hosein said a report by Tsunami claimed there were 38 defects on the Galleons Passage. Mark called the Galleons Passage “a glorified water taxi.” Hosein said citizens must “not travel on this boat, because they will be putting their lives at risk.”
Earlier in the day, Sinanan said the vessel was on schedule to arrive in TT today. In a Twitter post, Imbert said satellite tracking show that at 3.12 pm, the Galleons Passage was located at 12.02763 degrees longitude/ -64.16217 degrees latitude, off the north coast of South America. Satellite tracking also showed the Galleons Passage is “underway/using engine.” The vessel’s speed was six knots and its course was 119 degrees. “This is the correct status of the Galleons Passage at this time. It’s in good shape. Any other information is bogus,” Imbert declared.
“Contrary to fake news being circulated by desperate opposition activists, the Galleons Passage is currently sailing comfortably at seven knots towards Port of Spain.” The vessel is set to arrive at its pilot station in Chaguaramas at 2 pm. At this station, it will refuel and clear immigrations before proceeding to Port of Spain. Sinanan was hopeful that the media would be able to tour the Galleons Passage in Port of Spain, once Nidco gives the green light.
Imbert, in response to claims made by Mark and Hosein, said, “Galleons Passage has received category one status from Lloyd’s Register, which is the highest international rating.”