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Tenders for new vessel closed
Tenders have closed for a new vessel to take up the inter-island cargo route and the Port Authority board will go through them tomorrow and make a determination going forward.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan could shed no light yesterday on how many tenders had been received and efforts to reach Port chairman Allison Lewis were unsuccessful. But Sinanan said it is now up to the board and tenders committee to make a recommendation.
While the hunt continues for a vessel to replace the Galicia, the Atlantic Provider and Trinity Transporter barge will fill the gap.
The Provider made its maiden voyage to Tobago on Sunday but president of the Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Demi John Cruickshank said it was too early to determine whether it will be adequate to supply the needs of the island.
However, Cruickshank said they have determined that “we should be able to get 40 trucks on the vessel. We have to wait and see, however we are not in support of the barge.”
Tenders for a vessel to replace the Galicia closed at 2 pm yesterday and Cruickshank said the chamber hopes to be updated on this soon. But he again described the entire situation as “unfortunate,” saying they had hoped the minister would have acted since November to ensure what happened did not occur.
“We brought it to his attention that the people were indicating they did not have a contract and that they would be leaving. We were hoping that he, having come from the private sector, would have understood. But look at where we are today.”
Last week, the Government, through attorney Dr Claude Denbow SC, sent two letters to the Galicia’s local agent, Intercontinental Shipping Ltd (ICSL), indicating it must fulfil its 18-month contract for the vessel to operate the sea bridge or face legal action. That contract was due to expire on October 31 this year.
On this issue, Cruickshank said: “I have no idea about this contract. The people say they don’t have a contract and they taking their vessel. The minister is a strange fellah. He said the Super Fast Galicia was not suitable for the run, he said it was costing too much money and was riddled in corruption so why then is he insisting that it return? Why if it is inadequate are you pursuing it? One minute the minister saying we don’t need or want the vessel and all of a sudden he wants it to stay.”
He said Sinanan “should show us the proof of the corruption that he is speaking about with regard to the contract, where is the corruption? If there is corruption we all want to know, stop making the allegation and come and show us the proof. If not let us move on and let the matter die a natural death.”
Cruickshank said all the business community in Tobago wants is “a vessel that will reach in four to five hours and is comfortable to transport adequate cargo and adequate passengers, we did not ask for anything more than that.”
Leader of the Tobago Forwards Christlyn Moore meanwhile said Sinanan needs to make the contract between the Government and Intercontinental public.
Moore said: “The Government talking about procurement, but are the procurement issues on this boat (Provider) resolved. Was this procured by open tendering practices or was this sole selection, who is behind this transport company, and what are the underlying commercial transactions that are really going on behind this deal?”
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