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Rowley to meet stakeholders

Published: 
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Port not considering new Bridgemans proposal

Kalifa Clyne

[email protected]

The Port the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) is not considering any proposal to use the Ocean Flower II, despite counter proposals submitted by owner Bridgemans Services Group.

Responding via text message to questions from the Sunday Guardian yesterday, PATT chairman Allison Lewis made it clear that the authority was following the mandate of its line ministry in this matter and will be putting out a new tender for a vessel.

“The Port Authority has been mandated by the Ministry of Works and Transport to go back out to tender for a vessel to provide ferry service on the sea bridge.

“In light of this, the port authority is not considering any proposal outside of that process,” Lewis wrote.

On Friday, Andrew Purdey, vice president of the Canadian-based ferry service provider, objected to the termination of the Ocean Flower II’s one-year contract.

Purdey said his company was considering its options on how to move forward, including providing PATT with a short-term rental proposal for its consideration of the 21-year-old vessel, since it will be “ready for services if called upon in the coming days.”

He said Bridgemans was “willing to provide a workable solution that would be a win-win for all parties and is committed to delivering its contractual obligations in a professional and effective manner to ensure that PATT is served to the highest standard.”

Purdey said Bridgemans Services did not agree the cancellation of the Ocean Flower II deal was valid, despite its failure to reach T&T in the specified time and the number of deficiencies identified during evaluations of the vessel.

He said the Ocean Flower was delayed due to several unplanned events during its 9000 nautical miles journey from Korea, through the Bearing Sea along the North Specific Ocean and onto the Panama Canal.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has called a meeting with the main stakeholders affected by the failure to find a replacement passenger ferry to service the sea bridge between Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow in Tobago.

According to the release from the Office of the Prime Minister, the meeting will take place at the Magdalena Grand Hotel from 2 pm and will include representatives from the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Tobago Hoteliers and Tourism Association, Tobago Truckers Association and the Tobago Unique Bread and Breakfast and Self-Catering Association.

The release said Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe and Tobago East MP the Ayanna Webster-Roy will also attend along with the Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.

When the Sunday Guardian contacted Sinanan yesterday, he referred all questions to Lewis, adding that it was up to the port to respond to any developments.

While Tobago stakeholders will be present for the meeting, it is unclear whether a representative from the Port Authority, which is responsible for securing a new vessel, will be present.

When questioned on this, Lewis said she was not aware of any invitation to attend a meeting in Tobago.

On Friday, Rowley apologised to the people of Tobago over the PATT’s cancellation of the Ocean Flower 2 contract, saying the incident was of “great disappointment” to him.

Government had given approval to lease two vessels, the Cabo Star cargo ferry and Ocean Flower II, to service the sea bridge between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough at the end of June, but questions over the appropriateness of the latter was almost immediately highlighted in the media.

When PATT’s chief engineer Brendon Powder visited the vessel for a sea trial in Panama recently, he ruled that the Ocean Flower II may not have been suitable to service the sea bridge because of several mechanical issues and explosion risks.

Powder instead recommended that the vessel remain in Colon, Panama, to urgently attend to all repairs prior to it sailing to Trinidad.

According to the report summary, a sea trial of the vessel was conducted on August 5 but there was an hour delay in commencement due to bunkering and difficulty in getting all the engines operational.

The trial was eventually completed on August 6. It was noted that president of Bridgemans Services Group Limited, Brian Grange, witnessed the sea trial and the mechanical issues with the vessel.

In a letter dated August 7, 2017, to the PATT’s general manager, Charmaine Lewis, Powder also noted there was no maintenance history for the vessel’s machinery on board.

He said there was an issue with the engines which could lead to fire and explosion risk issues.