Government appoints investigator to probe transportation woes
PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government Tuesday said it had appointed businessman Christian Mouttet to be the sole investigator into the circumstances surrounding the procurement of two vessels to service the sea bridge between the two islands.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that Mouttet had up to 30 days to submit a report and that he would “be provided with support from the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs”.
Last week, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago said it had cancelled the agreement with the owners of the Ocean Flower 2 after the ferry failed to arrive here in keeping with the date originally agreed to begin servicing the bridge.
The other vessel, Cabo Star, is providing both passenger and cargo service between the islands.
The procurement of the vessels has become a major issue here with the main opposition United national Congress (UNC) and some sections of the private sector here calling for an investigation into the matter.
Last weekend, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he would meet with stakeholders in Tobago to address the government’s “unsuccessful attempt” to find a replacement passenger ferry to service the sea bridge between Trinidad and Tobago.
The meeting with representatives from the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, the Tobago Hoteliers Association, the Tobago Truckers Association and others, will be held on August 21.
Rowley called the meeting less than 24 hours after he apologised for the cancellation of the contract with Ocean Flower 2.
“The unsuccessful attempt to find a replacement passenger ferry is a matter of great disappointment to me and I am sure the majority of Tobagonians who rely on this service for their comfort and livelihood,” Rowley said.
“The Government is not unmindful of your plight and is currently engaged in making all reasonable efforts to remedy the situation in the short term.”
Meanwhile, President of the Tobago Division of the TT Chamber of Commerce Demi John Cruickshank said the organisation welcomed the meeting.
The Port Authority has been working to secure a new passenger ferry to service the inter-island sea bridge since the MV Superfast Galicia pulled from local service earlier this year.
Three vessels are currently being used – the T&T Spirit, T&T Express and the Cabo Star, however they are all under passenger capacity. (CMC)