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PM: Conspiracy to block Australian shipbuilders from T&T

Published: 
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Two new ferries for seabridge...
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, right, greets Education Minister Anthony Garcia following yesterday’s Post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced plans of purchasing two new ferries to service the seabridge. He, however, noted that there seemed to have been a conspiracy to block communication with the Australian shipbuilding company, International Catamarans (INCAT), that could have eased the woes experienced, especially by corporate T&T.

Rowley described the revelation as “Horror in Hobart.”

He explained that while in Tazmania, he and his team discovered that there was correspondence between Austal, whose vessels are in this country, and “people on the Government payroll” who refused to respond because “it didn’t suit their agenda.”

A matter he promised will be pursued.

“When we were desperately looking for a ferry to service Tobago, to allow the Spirit and the Express to go into dry-dock there were people on the Government payroll in T&T, who refused to respond to INCAT, who were in a position to make vessels available to us,” Rowley said.

He added that Government employees from “all about,” were telling the Board (referring to the Port Authority of T&T Board) that “they can’t find nothing.”

“But, they were finding Ocean Flower and Cabo Star for us…We are going to pursue that matter,” Rowley said.

“People, who knew the hell that we are going through as a people…Tobago economy being wrecked…We go quite to Tazmania to see correspondence to people on the Government payroll in T&T…people who didn’t bother to reply because it didn’t suit their agenda,” he added.

Rowley, however, announced good news saying that the Government will see to purchase two new vessels at a cost of US$80 million each. Proposals are expected to come within two weeks whereby a decision will be made and an order placed, which will have a timeline of 18 months. He did mention that these new vessels will come with a seven-year maintenance agreement with capacity training included.

With respect to the Spirit and Express, Rowley said that they can be repaired and sold as there was demand for them worldwide. The money earned will be used to help pay for the new vessels. He said Government will be moving speedily to “secure the slots.”

Rowley also disclosed that Austal officials will be in Trinidad next week to do a report on the six Coast Guard vessels which are “gathering moss.” The Prime Minister explained that the coasts of T&T are very porous and efforts will be made to repair those vessels to put them back on the borders.

In China, Rowley said they met with several top officials of Chinese State firms seeking to promote meaningful investments. One such, Rowley disclosed, was opening an avenue for the Chinese to invest in the Sandals project which is geared towards bolstering Tobago’s tourism.

On the issue of tours, Rowley said there were discussions with Chinese airlines — Air China and Hainan Airlines in bringing Chinese tourists to T&T.

The issue of industrial parks were also discussed where the Chinese will be able to invest in the manufacturing of goods.

Chinese State companies, including: Beijing Construction Engineering Group, China Communications Construction Company Limited, China Gezhouba Group International Company Limited, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, Shanghai Constructions Group and China Harbour Engineering Company, hopefully, according to Rowley, will consider investing and building among many - a dry docking facility in La Brea, the new terminal building at the ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago and a new central block for the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

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