Thursday 23 November, 2017

Devant writes Integrity Commission over new Tobago ferries

Former minister of Transport Devant Maharaj has written to the Integrity Commission to file a complaint over what he believes are irregularities in the procurement process used by the Port Authority in leasing new vessels to service the inter-island sea bridge. 

Maharaj said he has closely followed developments concerning the new vessels, the Cabo Star which arrived in Trinidad July 20, and the Ocean Flower which was expected to arrive July 26 after its original July 17 expected date of arrival, but is still on its way to T&T. 

In his letter to the Integrity Commission dated August 4, the former minister said he is of the view that the situation warrants an investigation.

"Having closely analysed the factual matrix of this transaction I am of the firm belief that this matter warrants the attention of the Commission and further warrants the invocation of the investigative function of the Commission."

He said a number of questions have been raised over the procurement of the services of Bridgemans Services Group which the Port Authority has failed to adequately address.

Providing a timeline on the issues surrounding both vessels, Maharaj identified issues with Bridgemans experience, the tendering process, the award of the contract to Bridgemans, proper registration of the vessels, among other issues. 

Maharaj said the directors and shareholders of Bridgemans remain unknown, creating a situation where the facts "serve only to throw fuel on an open flame of  suspicion because it begs the question as to who is the ultimate recipient and beneficiary of these large sums of money".

The former minister also questioned how a company with no experience and not lawfully registered be contracted by the Port Authority. 

He further questioned when the contract was signed, what due diligence was done on Bridgeman Services LP and whether the company is compliant with the Board of Inland Revenue, National Insurance, Financial Intelligence Unit, etc. given that the Port Authority has paid and will be paying large amounts of cash to the entity on a regular basis.