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Warner, Devant defend selling of water taxis
Transport Minister Devant Maharaj and Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner have come out against former works and transport minister Colm Imbert’s criticisms over his claim that the sale of four water taxis for a “pittance” was cause for great concern. The vessels were purchased under the former PNM government. Imbert wanted to know who was benefiting from the transaction.
But Maharaj said yesterday the PP Government was not to take any blame for the “misuse and wastage” of taxpayers’ money by the former government for the purchase and sale of the water taxis. Maharaj said the MV Su was purchased for almost $25 million and incurred repairs and legal fees to become operational at a cost of more than $28 million. He said the other three vessels cost about $45 million, and the total cost to taxpayers for the four vessels was almost $100 million.
Maharaj said passengers’ lives were at risk on those vessels. “These vessels deteriorated over the period 2008-2010, rendering them unseaworthy.” He said the Su did not carry one passenger and was sold for $548,000 partly because it was unable to sail. Warner, in his release, said the PNM Government bought the four used vessels to impress the population for the 2007 general election.
“That irresponsible, rushed political decision by the PNM is what led to the $127 million in losses associated with these boats,” he added. He said the initiative was no different from the US$15 million blimp that had maintenance issues and was eventually “sold off for the meagre salvage of US$50,000 to escape recurring maintenance costs.”
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