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PATT board in marathon meeting

Published: 
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Port Authority chairman Alison Lewis arrives for yesterday’s emergency meeting at the Port Authority of T&T’s administrative building in Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Some members of the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) and its chairman Alison Lewis were locked in an emergency meeting at the Port of Port-of-Spain over the sea bridge fiasco up to late last night.

The meeting started at 11 am with a stern faced Lewis arriving at 12.10 pm at the administrative building, ducking the media as they asked questions.

It was unclear if all seven board directors attended the marathon meeting, and there was no information on whether Lewis or any of her directors had tendered their resignations or what was discussed behind closed doors.

Of the seven directors, Brandon Primus and Tommy Elias were seen leaving the port after midday yesterday. Elias was escorted out by port police and also evaded the media as his driver sped pass the security’s barrier. Up to 7.15 pm, Lewis’ car was still in the car park.

The meeting followed several calls from various quarters for the board and Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan to resign or be fired following last Tuesday’s cancellation of the contract for the Ocean Flower II. PATT reason for the termination stemmed from Canadian-based ferry service provider Bridgemans Service Group’s failure to get the vessel here by July 17 and technical issues raised by PATT chief engineer Brendon Powder.

Powder had ruled that the Ocean Flower II may not have been suitable to service the sea bridge between T&T because of several mechanical issues and explosion risks identified during the sea trial he conducted in Panama. He instead recommended that the 21-year-old vessel should remain in Colon, Panama, to urgently attend to all repairs prior to it sailing to Trinidad. Powder and a team of PATT officials visited Panama to inspect the Ocean Flower II over the period July 30 to August 6.

Bridgemans vice president Andrew Purdey has objected to the cancellation, saying his company is considering its options going forward.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced he would meet with stakeholders in Tobago on August 21 to discuss the sea bridge debacle and the cancellation of the contract. They include the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Tobago Hoteliers and Tourism Association, Tobago Truckers Association and Tobago Unique Bread and Breakfast and Self Catering. The release did not indicate if the PATT board was invited.

Lewis did not respond last night to a text message asking what the meeting was about or if anyone on her board, including herself, had resigned. Calls to Sinanan’s cellphone also went unanswered.