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Why continuing misinformation over Galicia?

Published: 
Monday, September 11, 2017

T&T Sunday Guardian’s columnist, Mickela Panday, quotes the ag PS, Ministry of Works and Transport, as confirming a payment of $18 million to Intercontinental Shipping Limited (ICSL) for the MV Superfast Galicia “while the Galicia was docked for months”. The columnist also says that the Galicia “enjoyed an extortionate relationship with the State in operating the ferry service until the State could take no more”. It is obvious that Ms Panday has based her comments on hearsay and on unreliable media and has done no research to support her statements.

During my testimony at the JSC meeting, I made it very clear that this so-called statement regarding the $18 million payment was incorrect, it was misinformation and it bordered on being mischievous. Senator Franklin Khan, it appears, was attempting to cast aspersions on the Ministry of Transport and the PATT. At the JSC meeting I asked Senator Khan where he got his information from and he simply replied, “from his research”. His information was wrong as the following facts reveal.

The facts are:

• First Charter Party Agreement with the Galicia was signed on May 7, 2014.

• First payment for mobilisation and upfront rental was on May 13, 2014.

• The MV Superfast Galicia arrived at the port of Port of Spain on June 7, 2014 at 0800 hrs.

• Droughers Certificate issued by the Maritime Services Division on June 9, 2014.

• Cabinet Minute authorising the waiver of VAT Liability was done on June 16, 2014.

• License to Navigate Coastline issued by Customs and Excise—June 18, 2014.

• Bunkers and water on standby to sail on July 5, 2014.

• The MV Superfast Galicia’s first commercial sailing to Tobago was on July 7, 2014. This was 30 days after her arrival in Trinidad.

These are the facts and all dates can be corroborated by the PATT ships’ log; the SF Galicia’s own ship’s log; by the various agencies giving the necessary approvals; and by statements made by then THA Chief Secretary, Mr Orville London, who welcomed the SF Galicia on her arrival in Tobago on July 7, 2014.

Senator Khan’s statement is misleading as is the Prime Minister’s statement that the MV Superfast Galicia was in the country for a period of seven months before she sailed.

The payment of $18 million was held in an escrow account and only dispersed as per the Charter Party Agreement for the leasing of the Superfast Galicia.

The Superfast Galicia made 1030 voyages to and from Tobago. Over the Charter Party Agreement she remained in port for six days due to mechanical issues giving her a reliability of over 99 per cent. The six days of stoppage was refunded to the PATT.

Why the continuation of misinformation? This is anybody’s guess.

Stephen Cadiz

Fmr Minister of Transport