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Ousted PNM member raises ferry concerns

Published: 
Monday, August 13, 2018

Businessman Harry Ragoonanan, who claims he was suspended by the People’s National Movement (PNM) because of his stance on Government’s handling of the inter-island ferry service, joined attorney Nyree Alfonso and Opposition activist Devant Maharaj at a media conference yesterday.

However, he insisted that his presence did not mean he had defected to the United National Congress (UNC)

Ragoonanan, who was suspended from the ruling party over allegations related to a Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) contract, claimed the action was really taken because of his position on procurement of vessels for the inter-island route.

Maharaj was careful to note that Ragoonanan’s participation in the press conference did not mean that he had defected to the UNC.

“Harry is not joining the UNC. Although they (PNM) are having their family day and he is here because he is concerned over what is happening on seabridge,” Maharaj said.

Ragoonanan said his first involvement in the controversial issue was when he alerted the PNM’s general council that the contract for maintenance of the T&T Express and Spirit was due to expire

“I indicated to them that a proper replacement is not in place to continue the excellent service that Bay Ferries was providing for us for almost 12 years, where they never missed a sailing to Tobago other than two occasions with hurricanes,” he said.

Ragoonanan claimed his warnings were ignored and because of the lack of maintenance of the vessels after the contract ended, both broke down.

He said the T&T Spirit cost more than US$12 million to repair and the T&T Express now has to be sold because of the cost for repairs.

Ragoonanan, who has been working in the maritime industry for more three decades, said he offered to help the party procure a new vessel and provided recommendations to the Port Authority.

“After preparing vessel to bring it to Trinidad and Tobago, they got a one-line letter that they no longer interested in the vessel . . . was told that somebody called the Port and told them not to deal with that vessel because the man behind it is a scamp. Nobody called me a scamp, because that I am not,” he said.

Ragoonanan repeatedly said his role in attempting to assist the Government was not for financial gain.

“I would not have benefited anything from the supply of these vessels contrary to what they may have said. I used my influence to help my country get a proper service to Tobago,” he said.

On the issue of the Galleon’s Passage, Ragoonanan joined with Maharaj and Alfonso in questioning its suitability.

“That is a disaster waiting to happen. It will cause a lot of seasickness,” he said.

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