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PATT, Bridgemans boss in secret meeting

Published: 
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Andrew Purdey

The Port Authority of T&T and the vice president and partner of Bridgemans Services Group LP, Andrew Purdey, held a secret two-hour long meeting to discuss the cancellation of the controversial Ocean Flower 2 contract.

Purdey travelled from his Vancouver company and arrived here hours after Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan announced the termination of the contract due to its late arrival yesterday.

The vessel was leased in July by PATT for one year at a daily charter rate of US$26,500 (TT$185,500), but the port terminated the deal on Tuesday because was yet to arrive here despite agreeing to getting here by July 15.

Purdey met with deputy PATT chairman Adrian Beharry and port officials, as well as a legal team from the Ministry of Works at 11 am at the Port of Port-of- Spain administrative building for the talks.

GML understands Purdey attempted to salvage the deal by offering the PATT a month-long free trial of the Ocean Flower II to prove the vessel’s worth on the sea bridge.

Contacted yesterday by CNC3 via text message, PATT Alison Lewis, who did not attend the meeting as she is currently on vacation, admitted there was a meeting between both parties “out of courtesy to advise them of the cancellation and that we intend to go back out to tender for a ferry.”

Lewis reminded that PATT still had a contract with Bridgemans for the Cabo Star “and we are managing the relationship and evaluation its performance.”

However, when Lewis was asked in a text message by T&T Guardian if she could confirm or deny Purdey’s visit was hinged on him offering the PATT a one-month free trial of the Ocean Flower on the sea bridge, she wrote “I cannot.”

Purdey had very little to say to a GML team following the meeting. Asked if Bridgemans Services intended to take legal action against the port for terminating the contract, Purdey’s curt response was, “You can speak to the port, they have all the information. Thank you.”

Purdey steered clear of questions on the company’s history, but asked if they has a proven track record, he said: “Absolutely.”

Purdey also said the accusations levelled against his company in the local media “was not accurate.”

However, less than three hours after the meeting, a report by marine website Equasis suggested issues were raised during an inspection of the vessel on July 14. Equasis claimed the US Coast Guard conducted the inspection on the 21-year-old vessel at the Dutch Harbor, Alaska, USA. While the type of inspection was listed as “standard” there was no detention of the vessel.

Asked about possible issues with the vessel arising out of that inspection, Purdey said the information was not factual.

“I think the media down here is crazy. They have so little bearing on the truth. It is interesting how it all evolves,” Purdey said in defence of the vessel.

Also contacted yesterday, Sinanan said he knew the port had a meeting with a representative of the Canadian company but did not get an update.

“I understand that a representative from Bridgemans came down, but I cannot tell you what was the outcome.”

Sinanan also said he had no knowledge Bridgemans had offered to provide service for a month without cost.

“I don’t know anything about that.”

Sinanan said there was talk around that he called the meeting with Purdey, but he vehemently denied this.

“The port called me this morning and told me they have a meeting with Bridgemans Services. These people asked for a meeting with the port, not me. I had nothing to do with that. As a matter of fact, I told them to make sure and carry in their lawyers (from the Ministry of Works) and everybody so they don’t prejudice the Government’s position and our interest is protected.”

He said at no time did he try to or micro manage the PATT, noting it is managed by a board.

Lewis did not response to a text message about the deficiencies outlined, while several calls to Sinanan phone went unanswered. —SH