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Drydocking not value for money

Monday, July 30, 2018
Govt to sell ageing T&T Express—PM

Government will dispose of the 22-year-old T&T Express rather than spend an estimated US$7 to $10 million in drydocking services, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said.

He made the disclosure during a tour of the T&T Coast Guard Headquarters at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas, on Friday.

Speaking at a media conference after the tour, Rowley said at this time it was more feasible to sell the vessel “as is” rather than to take in for repair and maintenance works.

He noted that the T&T Express, which has been servicing the inter-island seabridge has “virtually” come to an end of its certifiable life. He added that too much money was already spent on it in its drydocking periods over the years since its acquisition in 2006.

“Cabinet has decided that we will dispose of the Express, as is, where is, and not spend US$7 million or US$10 million on drydocking. The resale market…the market is quite good now and it is a good time to sell it. We will not spend any money trying to bring it up to standard,” Rowley said.

He also noted that in the meantime, the Government will be looking to charter another vessel on a short-term contract until the two new fast ferries Government is moving quickly to acquire are brought in.

Rowley assured that the new fast ferries will be “state-of-the-art” and added that they should arrive in T&T by the end of 2020. He disclosed that both vessels will be bought via Australian funding through its Export Financing Investment Corps.

“These discussions are well advanced. The offer is in hand…We have the offer from the Australians to fund what we need and therefore a Cabinet decision yesterday (Thursday) put us in a position to proceed to execute this,” Rowley said.

In seeking to clear the air further on the purchase of the Galleons Passage, Rowley said brokers were looking for a fast ferry and could not find one. He added that one of the international brokers was the one who located the vessel, which was initially purchased by a Venezuelan national. The vessel he said been valued US$35 million, he said.

“It had just been built for a Venezuelan owner and he could not complete the payments so it was made available to us…the price was right and attractive…the owner just wanted to recover his money and we got it for $17 million,” Rowley said.


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