FAST ferry Jean De La Valette’s (JDLV) last known location is in Spain, according to chairman of the Port Authority (PATT) Lyle Alexander, who added that the vessel is still scheduled to arrive at the end of this month.
“Generally speaking, she is still on schedule and should be here at the time we had stated. Nothing has changed since the last time we spoke on it. Right now she is on dry docks in a dockyard in Spain,” Alexander said.
The National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) recommended the temporary lease of the ten-year-old JDLV, sourced from Malta, to service the seabridge. It will replace the sea-weary TT Express which Government plans to sell until two new ferries arrive in mid-2020. The Galleons Passage is still in operation while the Cabo Star continues to transport cargo on the seabridge.
The leasing of the ferry has not been without controversy as the Opposition claimed procurement of the vessel was shady.
The ferry was leased from Virtu Ferries whose managing director Francis Portelli, of parent company Virtu Holdings, has been involved in a huge oil scandal in Malta, and has allegations of money laundering and bribery still hanging over his head. However, Nidco said it had no issue signing the lease. Chairman of Nidco Esther Farmer had previously said there was nothing to suggest that Nidco could not continue doing business with Virtu Holdings. She said the issue of Portelli’s court matter was not relevant to the procurement process.
“There is nothing illegal in the contract that NIDCO is about to enter into. NIDCO deals with the legality of something, not the concept,” Farmer said.
The JDLV is being leased at 34,500 Euros or TT$263,580 per day.