$120 million for a new vessel for Tobago …”THE SECRET BOAT”

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Who procured the deal for a new boat for the sea bridge?

Which Government Minister was responsible for buying a new boat from Asia for $120 million?

Why the secrecy surrounding this new vessel?

Was NIDCO really involved in this procurement?

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

Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, made the announcement in Parliament on Friday.

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.”

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 PNM 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 PNM Government purchased the T&T Spirit vessel for the price US$60 million. At the time the vessel was three years old.”

Imbert said, “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.”

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