What happened to the sea bridge tender?

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THE EDITOR: Confidential sources at the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (PATT) have indicated that there is an issue of concern regarding the selection of a fast ferry to service Tobago following a review of the tender process. Fearful of losing their jobs as former Ag. General Manager Charmaine Lewis, but concerned of the possible tainting of the tender process, the confidential source decided to come to myself.

On August 28th, the Port Authority advertised for tenders for the fast ferry service and gave a deadline of September 20th for the submission of tenders for the supply of a roll-on/roll-off passenger fast ferry on a two year time charter, with the option to renew for one year.

A newspaper advertisement from the Authority said the sealed tenders must be submitted by 2 pm on September 20th at the Office of the Port Secretary, second floor, Port Authority building, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain.

On September 22nd, the Opposition Leader noted at the public meeting that the specs in the tender have been revised, in the midst of what she calls other suspicious circumstances. The Opposition Leader asked if the Ministry of Works is taking illegal action to make it easy for a specific party to secure the tender for a passenger ferry?

One month after on Friday 27th, October Port Authority Chairman Alison Lewis indicated that the evaluation committee that was examining tenders for the supply of a roll-on/roll-off passenger fast ferry, submitted its report. Lewis said the tenders committee will deliberate on the report in a week before submitting it to the board of the Authority.

Two months after the tender deadline has expired the PATT and one month after the submission of the tender committee evaluation report the PATT has not made a decision to select a fast ferry to service the sea bridge. This inordinate delay in the selection process sharply contradicts the urgency in which the Ocean Flower 2 was selected and subsequent ratification by the Cabinet.

On November 09th, the PATT however wrote to persons who tendered for clarification and extended that date for clarification to November 14th and then again to November 19th.

The confidential source indicated that in the week of Friday 24th November a recommendation on a selection of a ferry was made to the PATT. It was stated that recommendation did not find favour with the political directorate and either the ferry would be re-tendered or the evaluation committee would be changed so as to arrive at a selection acceptable to the political directorate.

What is exactly going on with the tender process of this urgent service? The Minister of Works & Transport and the PATT needs to come clean and clear the air on the selection process for the fast ferry and provide the information to the population. It appears that the incompetence have now manifested itself in the tender process. Given the lack of transparency in the process the allegation of the Leader of the Opposition has to be investigated.

Devant Maharaj
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