“CABINET POLITICS IN FERRY COMMITTEE?”

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THE EDITOR: Following rumours that the political directorate did not approve of the recommendation made by the tender evaluation committee of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, it is deeply worrisome that a Cabinet sub-committee has now been appointed to procure a ferry for the sea bridge between Trinidad and Tobago.

Given the admission of the Cabinet that the Port Authority has once again failed to properly procure a ferry for the sea bridge, is it not time that the entire Board of the PATT be fired for their continued and repeated incompetence and failure?

It is also hard pressed to remember when last a group of ministers were appointed to invite and evaluate tenders for anything and then subsequently select a winning tender. The unprecedented process of appointing a political committee to select a ferry given the suspicions surrounding the rumours of rejecting the recommendation of the tenders evaluation committee will only further undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the process.

Questions also arise as to the qualifications of Ministers Young, Le Hunte, Imbert, and Cudjoe to select an appropriate ferry when a tenders committee with qualified persons in the maritime industry failed according to the Post Cabinet Statement. Not a single Tobago stakeholder and no one with any technical expertise is included.

The absence of the Minister of Works and Transport from this committee also has to be questioned. Is it that in addition to arriving at the fact that the Port Authority failed in selecting a ferry that Cabinet also arrived at the inescapable conclusion that the Minister of Works and Transport is also a failure in this matter?

Given that the Port Authority has fired the General Manager and suspended the Deputy General Manager who exactly were the Port officials that were “deliberately holding back the process” and how was the process held back? What were the names and qualifications of the tenders committee members and why did they fail?

Given that the tenders committee had written to Sea Jets asking for supplemental information to be provided by 19th November 2017 to be considered in their decision making process at what time exactly did the Cabinet subcommittee begin its process to select a ferry “to make an announcement in a couple weeks”?

Was Sea Jets vessels selected by the tenders committee and subsequently rejected by the political directorate because of perceived connections to the estranged PNM member Harry Ragoonanan, and therefore set the conditions to establish a Cabinet subcommittee comprising of politicians?

It bears repeating that with the Ocean Flower 2 the Prime Minister was contacted by telephone and a decision taken immediately regarding procurement due to the urgency of securing a ferry for the sea bridge.

 Yet months after going through the tendering process that same sense of urgency appears to be conspicuously absent.

The populations anxiously awaits an explanation to these issues.

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Devant Maharaj
Former Government Minister
 

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