The adage “where the money gone” is a phrase Trinis use to allude to some sort of corruption or mismanagement in government operations.
On Tuesday during a press conference, UNC activist Devant Maharaj used it on several occasions as he, attorney Nyree Alfonso and maritime expert Harry Ragoonanan ventilated their findings from a document which detailed the procurement process of the Galleons Passage.
Maharaj accused the government of “buying cheap ting” with regard to the boat, sabotaging the tender which provided better options and lying to the nation about the price.
The document was released to the public a day after a judgement ordered Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan to make the documents public under the Freedom of Information Act. It noted that while the Galleons Passage was the cheapest, it was the least favourable among five possible ships which were offered in response to a tender for a ship to cross the inter-island sea bridge.
Alfonso said not only were two vessels which were better suited for rough waters passed over after the tendering process was cancelled, but the timing of the selection of the Galleons Passage after the process was stopped was “convenient.”
“I can say that there is something peculiar about cancelling a tendering process in November and by December a surveyor is looking over the vessel on behalf of the nation,” Alfonso said. “We didn’t even hear anything about the vessel until January 2018, but in December their surveyors retained by the Government were looking at it.”
“And it was painted red, white and black,” Maharaj chimed in. “Do you think they painted it that way before it reached here?”
The trio said the tendering process was also a ruse, intended to be cancelled at the last minute. They said there were deficiencies in the port document which hindered the process, and the deadline for a response on the tender was not realistic.
They also added that the vessel was said to have cost $17 million, but when the market was checked, vessels of that kind and size went for $10 million.
“It is not that the Government bought 'cheap ting' that bothered me. How is it that it is being marketed actively at the same time at prices which were well below what the Government had paid?” inquired Alfonso.
“Where the money gone?” Maharaj chimed in again. “That is the question you have to ask.”