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Lewis: I will not return to Port

Monday, March 12, 2018

She hasn’t “run” from the Port—but she’s not reconsidering returning.

Former Port Authority chairman Allison Lewis, who resigned from the Port Authority Board last Friday, was firm on that yesterday following reports that Government officials were hoping she’d reconsider.

Word of Lewis’ resignation was broken in the Parliament last Friday evening when UNC MP Roodal Moonilal said he’d just received word that the Port chairman had resigned.

Lewis, a well-known retired career public servant who’d spearheaded Finance Ministry work for many years, was appointed to the Port Authority Board in April 2017. Her resignation comes a month shy of a year in the job.

She is the second Port chairman to resign in two years. She had been appointed after Christine Sahadeo resigned as Port chairman in March 2017. Cabinet later fired the remaining Port commissioners who’d served with Sahadeo.

On Saturday, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan who said he’d heard of Lewis’ resignation, said he planned to ask her to reconsider. If she didn’t , he said, he thanked her for her service. The T&T Guardian learned Sinanan tried to call Lewis

But Lewis told the T&T Guardian yesterday she wasn’t reconsidering. On speculation about her reasons— and that she may be “running” from the contentious Port where ferry issues arose last year— she said, “I’m not running from anything. I believe I’ve done everything as much as I can do at the time and I believed it was time for me to give way for someone else to continue the work,”

“Once again I thank the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for the opportunity to serve my country and I wish the Port and the Government well.”

Pressed on her reasons, Lewis added, “Rest assured I have always done what I thought was in the country’s best interests and I’ve always done my work with integrity, fairness and professionalism—and I’ll continue to do that in whatever area I find myself.”

Was the Port too challenging for her? “The Port will always be very challenging, it’s a very challenging place and it needs to be transformed,” she added.

Sinanan, when asked if he had made any headway with her, said he’d spoken to her briefly and wouldn’t comment until he spoke to her “properly”.

He said the same when asked who might replace her, what would happen with the Port Board in the interim and also on the fact that Lewis is the second chairman to leave in two years.

Government sources yesterday quashed reported rumours that Lewis resigned after the Port Board agreed the Cabo Star’s contract “not be renewed” and that “someone at the Finance Ministry insisted on renewal.”

The contract ends June. Vessel owners were recently asked the cost if the contract had to be extended, they clarified.

UNC MP Roodal Moonilal said, “Mrs Lewis may have gone into the job with the noblest of intentions. I once worked with her— she is the consumate professional and very stringent in following rules and procedure. She can even frustrate politicians by her commitment to good governance,”

“For someone like that to have left, I truly believe she may be fed up of ministerial/political intervention in the Port’s running. Our information is she was disgusted,”

“Her departure will prompt the Opposition to undertake closer scrutiny of the Galleons Passage ferry which is coming as well as the ‘Cabo Star’s’ contract.”

“We’re already very concerned about the Galleon’s Passage. Despite the list of experts whom the Finance Minister said last Friday examined the boat, we wonder how come after expert scrutiny the Government only now realised they had to put in the sort of upgrades which they’re now doing at the cost of $2.3million — they didn’t realise the boat needed canopies on the decks?! Is this boat really suited for travel between T&T?”


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