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$120m for new Tobago ferry—Imbert

Published: 
Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Government has spent US$17.4 million (TT$120m) in acquiring an Asian vessel to service the inter-island ferry service.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert made the announcement in Parliament yesterday as he responded to an urgent question by Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee who wanted to find out how much Government had spent in acquiring a new vessel for the seabridge.

Imbert said the purchase price of the vessel “is US$17.4 million. The vessel is brand new. It has never been used.”

The vessel, Imbert said can accommodate 700 passengers and 100 vehicles.

“It is not a cargo vessel as the question implied. It is a passenger vehicle ferry.”

In his address to the nation last Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said a new boat had been purchased in Asia.

The vessel is expected to sail into our port in the next two months.

Imbert then outlined the cost past governments had paid in obtaining two passenger ferry vessels for the seabridge—the T&T Spirit and T&T Express—which he said were not new.

Imbert said in 2006, the then government purchased the T&T Express at US$20 million.

“The vessel at the time was 10 years old. And one year later in 2007, the Government purchased the T&T Spirit vessel for the price US$60 million. At the time the vessel was three years old.”

Lee further enquired when the vessel was built, to which Imbert replied “it is currently in its snagging phase” as minor matters are being sorted out.

“The vessel’s construction has been completed but it has not been put into service. It has never been used by anyone. And therefore, it is brand new. Age is zero.”

In a supplemental question, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal asked what was the procurement process used by the Government in obtaining the vessel.

Imbert said the vessel has gone through extensive sea trial in the water.

“That is what has happened over the last month. The vessel was identified by way of a worldwide search using international experts and the vessel has been procured by the National Infrastructure Development Company.”

The vessel is expected to arrive in T&T within two months.