Sunday 5 July, 2020

Devant writes President over one-man ferry probe

Former minister of transport Devant Maharaj has written to President Anthony Carmona requesting immediate and urgent intervention into the current situation at the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (PATT).

This, as Maharaj believes that the one-man probe ordered by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley into the procurement of the Ocean Flower 2 and Cabo Star ferries is unlawful and unqualified.

Last week, the former minister questioned businessman Christian Mouttet’s legal authority and ability to carry out such an investigation and urged him to decline the offer, adding that he should allow the appropriate lawful body to conduct the investigation.

He has also written to the Integrity Commission calling for a criminal investigation into the ferry fiasco.

In his letter to the President dated August 18 requesting the President’s intervention in the matter, Maharaj said Section 15(1) of the Constitution gives the Office of the President the authority and power to intervene on matters such as these that affect the public interest and not to be fettered by the interference of Cabinet or the Line Minister.

He noted that Government has not directed complaint and issues regarding poor procurement surrounding the supplier of the vessels, Bridgeman Trinidad Services LP, to the lawful and constitutional authorities such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Fraud Squad Division. 

“It is unacceptable that the political directorate can say that these creatures of statute (such as the Police or Integrity Commission) of our Republican Constitution are ineffective as an excuse and yet still expect the normal citizens of the nation to have confidence and rely on them.

If the Integrity Commission, Police, Auditor General etc. are not good for the Government to use, they cannot be good for the general public.”

Maharaj also expressed concern that the investigation by the Integrity Commission could be compromised owing to the “knowing or unknowing interference of these concurrent investigations by persons who not only lack the force of law to conduct such an investigation but lack any experience or qualification to do so”.  

The former minister also expressed concern that the investigations may have been purposefully orchestrated by person or persons unknown so as to have critical evidence so polluted that those culpable will be never discovered.

“As such I request that you intervene under the Port Authority Act Chat 51:01 Section 15 (1) to instruct the Port Authority to allow ONLY the Integrity Commission or any other lawful authority to conduct any investigation into the procurement of the Bridgeman Vessels’ Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2.

This action will no doubt be unprecedented with the Office of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and demands a display of Presidential courage and fortitude.” 

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to hold a meeting with the main stakeholders directly affected by the unsuccessful attempt to find a replacement passenger ferry to service the inter-island sea-bridge at the Magdalena Grand Hotel from 2:00 pm.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: