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We were expecting more—Amede
President of the Inter-Isle Truckers and Traders Association Horace Amede says yesterday’s meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was fruitful, although they still were not fully satisfied with all that was said. However, he said “one of the positives that came out of it is that the Ocean Flower 2 will not be accepted even though it is en route to Trinidad.”
Amede said he was satisfied the Prime Minister was well aware of the issues which have affected Tobago and has mandated the Port Authority to “look into it and have it sorted out as soon as possible.” To this end, he said the PM indicated they will “widen the scope to look for a fast ferry to meet the criteria, so that we will get another fast ferry.”
The Prime Minister, he said, described issues plaguing the Cabo Star as “operational” and has mandated the Port to also address those. The Cabo Star, predominantly used by the truckers, is said to be infested with roaches and other vermin.
Amede admitted: “We were not really satisfied, we were expecting more but we wait to see how things go.”
Based on the complaints from the Truckers’ Association, the PM said he will ask the PATT to look at the sailing time of the vessel.
“We will see by now and Wednesday what they will tell us, but they have to do something to reschedule the sailing time, he said it is a management problem,” Amede said.
Asked whether the issue of compensation for the truckers will be addressed, Amede said “No.”
He said while he understood that compensating the truckers would be opening “a can of worms,” Amede said the association will now “have to look at our legal options on this matter.”
Amede said they agreed with the Prime Minister that something was not right with the procurement of the vessels and were also awaiting the outcome of the investigation to determine what went wrong.
He said while the Prime Minister said there was still a contract with the Super Fast Galicia, they were of the view based on all that they knew that there was no contract.
Following the meeting, members of the Tobago Chamber went into another meeting to discuss the outcome of the talks with the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Rowley’s meeting with the stakeholders once again showed he is incapable of dealing with any of the issues facing the country.
“It is unacceptable, given the gravity of the situation and the damage done to citizens and businessmen of Tobago, that the Prime Minister could not answer the most basic questions regarding the ferry situation,” Persad-Bissessar said in a statement.
Saying Rowley, as head of the Cabinet admitted he was unaware of who are the shareholders and directors of Bridgemans Trinidad LPC, she added: “He could not answer how a company not registered in Trinidad and Tobago could be given this charter party by the Government. He could not answer whether advances were paid, whether there were any finder’s fees, legal fees or any other fees and to whom were these fees paid, and who took the decision to lease and on what basis.”
She said the PM continued to “show no empathy for the thousands of citizens affected by the inefficiencies of the sea bridge.”
“I reiterate the Opposition’s position that as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley must accept responsibility for this debacle, and take immediate action to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process by removing the PATT board and the line Minister Rohan Sinanan forthwith whilst the matter is under investigation. Marlene McDonald MP was fired not once but twice for less than this fiasco,” Persad-Bissessar said.
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