Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Fixin’ T&T: Sinanan and Hinds playing loose with facts on Tobago sea-bridge; Superfast Galicia timeline

Fixin’ T&T: Sinanan and Hinds playing loose with facts on Tobago sea-bridge; Superfast Galicia timeline

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan is perpetuating a narrative that seems entirely inconsistent with the facts about the present disastrous state of the Trinidad and Tobago sea bridge.

FIXIN’ T&T is convinced that this most recent collapse could have been avoided and was the unfortunate result of inertia, ineptitude, incompetence, arrogance and political immaturity on the part of the Dr Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration.

Photo: Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan. (Copyright News.Gov.TT)
Photo: Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

Concerns raised about the procurement of the MV Superfast Galicia (SFG) must be thoroughly and transparently investigated. That said, Government’s handling of this matter has been at very best reckless, irresponsible and without one iota of care or consideration for the people of Tobago, who have yet again fallen victim to petty politics.

Further, Prime Minister Dr Rowley, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister Sinanan have publicly made some very serious allegations and threatened lawsuits regarding this matter in an apparent attempt at intimidation and damaging reputations.

The words corruption, ransom, ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘bobol’ along with the phrases criminal conduct and economic blackmail are now associated with the parties involved and those who dared to raise their voices; all in the absence of any investigation or the offering of a shred of evidence.

Those responsible for and culpable in creating this debacle must be held accountable and dealt appropriate consequence. This is an absolute imperative in moving effectively forward to realising a sustainable solution.

FIXIN’ T&T’s conclusions are drawn from our investigations which unearthed the following sequence of events leading up to the decision by the owners of the SFG to withdraw their vessel from Trinidad and Tobago:

Photo: The MV Superfast Galicia. (Copyright CTV)
Photo: The MV Superfast Galicia.
(Copyright CTV)

The MV Superfast Galicia was contracted by the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) for two 12-month contracts, from 1  May, 2014 to 30 April, 2015; and from 1 May, 2015 to 30 April, 2016.

  • 4 December 2015: Intercontinental Shipping Limited (ICSL) writes to then Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds to advise that they “understand that a decision was taken back in September of this year by the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) to extend the contract of the MV Superfast Galicia for a period of two (2) years, but to date we have not received official confirmation of this contract award and we seek your assistance in understanding the Government’s intention with regard to the MV Superfast as soon as possible.” ICSL advises: “Consequent to this agreement, and based on our legitimate expectations emanating from the 2-year extension, we initiated financing arrangements through a local financial institution for the outright purchase of the vessel. “It should be noted that the ship’s owners have agreed in principle to the sale, but advised that otherwise the vessel will need to be returned to Gibraltar at the end of February 2016.” Additionally ICSL sought to explore the possibility of a “private sector-government partnership in the dredging cost in and around the ferry terminal area so as to adequately accommodate the MV Superfast.”
  • 20 January 2016: ICSL writes Finance Minister Colm Imbert outlining similar enquiries and identifying what it considers to be the many benefits of the SFG and again explores the dredging partnership.
Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert responds to questions in Parliament.. (Copyright WEFM)
Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert responds to questions in Parliament..
(Copyright WEFM)
  • 29 January 2016: ICSL writes to the Chairperson of the Port Authority, Christine Sahadeo, alerting of the consequences of the delay: “We are approaching the ninety-day mark (FEB 1) regarding the required notice period for the extension of this contract, as the contract is scheduled to end on April 30.”  ICSL adds: “If a two-year contract is not granted we will be unable to purchase the vessel and it must leave no later than April 15 to meet the owners demands.”
  • 8 April 2016: PATT responds to ICSL saying: “The Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) has approved the recommendation of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT), to renew the Charter Hire of the MV Superfast Galicia for a further period of eighteen (18) months.” It indicated that said contract would take effect from May 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017.
  • 27 April 2016: ICSL writes PATT indicating that that the owners of the SFG have agreed to the extension, adding that :“In order to avoid any interruptions with the service we require payment no later than April 29 for May. The payments for June and July need to be processed by May 10 and in the meantime we can finalize the contractual agreement between all parties.”
  • 31 May 2016: The Ministry of Works writes to the Tobago Division of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce informing it of the  agreement, giving the assurance that “Steps are being taken regarding the execution of the subject agreement between the parties.”  The same letter acknowledges the contract for the MV Warrior Spirit ends on 31 August 2016 and that it too is being reviewed.
Photo: Minister of Public Utilities and ex-Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds (right). (Copyright Power 102)
Photo: Minister of Public Utilities and ex-Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds (right).
(Copyright Power 102)
  • 7 June 2016: Mr Leon Grant, Acting CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-island Transport Company Limited (TTIT), writes to Minister Hinds to complain about the “Conduct of the Chairperson of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms Christine Sahadeo.” Mr Grant expresses concern about  interference. He notes that “at meetings held on 2016, March 16 and 2016, April 8, at the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) with regard to the replacement of a Passenger /Cargo (Ro Ro) Vessel, Management unanimously on both occasions recommended the renewal of the MV Super Fast Galicia.”
  • 6 October 2016: Tobago Division of  the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) and PATT meet in Tobago to discuss issues. TTCIC is told that dredging of the PoS port contract was awarded to a Dutch Company and that the PATT board and the Dutch company will meet in the next 2 weeks to discuss logistics. PATT Chairman acknowledges MOWT letter of 31 May 2017.
  • 30 November 2016: Tobago Division of the TTCIC, PATT, MOWT and Minister Sinanan meeting. Minister indicates that a commitment for the SFG for 18 months is in place but nothing is signed as negotiations regarding the fees are ongoing, but the assured that the SFG is in place for 18 months. Tenders for more vessels have been issued. With regards the dredging it was confirmed that the Dutch company was given a letter informing that they had won the tender to dredge however a Cabinet note for the funds was not yet finalized.
Photo: (From left) Stephen Williams (Acting Police Commissioner), Major General (Ret’d) Edmund Dillon (Minister of National Security), Rohan Sinanan (Minister of Works and Transport), Wayne Richards (Transport Commissioner) and Maxie Cuffie (Minister of Public Administration and Communications). (Copyright News.gov.tt)
Photo: (From left) Stephen Williams (Acting Police Commissioner), Major General (Ret’d) Edmund Dillon (Minister of National Security), Rohan Sinanan (Minister of Works and Transport), Wayne Richards (Transport Commissioner) and Maxie Cuffie (Minister of Public Administration and Communications).
(Copyright News.gov.tt)
  • 2 December 2016 (2:58 PM): https://www.shippax.com/en/news/super-fast-galicia-to-return-to-spain.aspx MOWT & Minister Rohan Sinanan are emailed the above link regarding the SFG’s assignment for 22 May  2017.
  • 2 December 2016 (5:31 PM): Sharon Imbert of the MOWT acknowledges receipt of the email.
  • 12 December 2016: ICSL Managing Director John Powell meets and holds discussions with MOWT Minister Rohan Sinanan.
  • 20 December 2016: In a follow-up to that meeting, ICSL writes to Minister Sinanan saying: “Thank you for the meeting on Monday 12 December 2016. It was a fruitful meeting and appreciate that you understand the challenges we have been encountering.” ICSL lists what they consider to be the many benefits of the SFG and advises that: “If awarded a long term contract (five years), ICSL could offer a reduced rate of 14,400 euros for the first 2 years, which is less than our previously tendered rates. Thereafter an incremental increase of 3% per annum on each remaining year of the contract.”
  • 31 January to 02 February 2017: The SFG is out of service for re-flagging.
  • 3 February 2017: ICSL’s Managing Director meet at the PATT with Mr Leon Grant, Ms Charmaine Lewis and Ms Marcia Charles. Minutes of this meeting are among the items requested by FIXIN’ T&T through the FOIA.
Photo: The MV Superfast Galicia. (Copyright Trasemeships)
Photo: The MV Superfast Galicia.
(Copyright Trasemeships)
  • 5 April 2017: Minister Sinanan meets with stakeholders in Tobago and describes the current sea bridge contractual arrangement as being “month to month.” Stakeholders make it clear that a barge will not be acceptable. Minister indicates that the idea of Atlantic Provider is a “non-issue” and simply “creative journalism.” It is suggested that an arrangement to keep SFG until October 2017 would allow time to secure replacement vessels.
  • 28 April 2017: FIXIN’ T&T writes to Minister Sinanan expressing grave concern and to enquire on, among other things, why the 18-month contract extension for the SFG was never executed.
  • 15 May 2017: In a telephone conversation with Minister Sinanan, FIXIN’ T&T’s Kirk Waithe enquires of him about the status of his response to FIXIN’ T&T’S Letter dated April 28, 2017. Minister Sinanan advises that said letter was passed on to Minister Stuart Young and a response should be forthcoming.
  • 18 May 2017: In a brief exchange outside Parliament, FIXIN’ T&T’s Kirk Waithe asks Minister Sinanan why the 18-month contract extension for the SFG was never signed. Minister Sinanan advises that it was before his time so he knows nothing about it.
  • 19 May 2017: FIXIN’ T&T’s Kirk Waithe phones Minister Hinds and asks why the 18-month contract extension for the SFG was never signed. Minister Hinds advises that he is no longer the Minister and has no information in front of or available to him so he is unable to assist.
Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) and Minister of Public Utilities Fitzgerald Hinds (second from right) meet players from Morvant Caledonia United before kick off against W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground on 20 January 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) and Minister of Public Utilities Fitzgerald Hinds (second from right) meet players from Morvant Caledonia United before kick off against W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground on 20 January 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Based on the above sequence of events, in addition to extensive other communication of which we are aware, FIXIN’ T&T has great difficulty in believing Minister Sinanan’s claims that the country was being held to ransom and was a victim of economic blackmail.

Above all, the facts outlined above contradict Minister Sinanan’s  stated position that he only knew and understood that the SFG would be leaving when he received formal notice on 31 March 2017.

In our respectful view, the facts indicate that it was Ministers Sinanan and Hinds who were derelict in their duty. These two Ministers are directly responsible for the prolonged suffering to which the people of Tobago are being subjected.

By their failure, they have also caused significant damage to T&T’s international reputation in maritime affairs. They must be made to feel the full consequences of their failures.

The Tobago Division TTCIC and by extension the people of Tobago have clearly attempted to avert the current crisis by offering sensible and reasonable recommendations which seemingly fell on deaf ears and overbearing political egos. For all of their efforts, they are now left to endure the results of the miserable failings of the PATT Board and MOWT Ministers past and present.

Photo: Tobago Heritage Dance Performers strut their stuff at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet during the 2015 Legends Football tournament. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Tobago Heritage Dance Performers strut their stuff at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet during the 2015 Legends Football tournament.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

As stated by a member of the Tobago Division of TTCIC during the April 5 meeting, “the people making the decisions are not affected by the decisions made.” Fixing that likely holds the key to sustainable solutions for both the sea and air bridge.

About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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68 comments

  1. Level of frustration Nerisha? Thry need to start cussing and calling names like they did when the last lot was there. Dont implode

  2. The PM would say “give me a break, that is racial dotishness”.

  3. they were all well aware of all the facts they waiting on the junior min and advisor to spin it

  4. How come Tobago people eh saying nothing.

  5. “The company stated that its last management contract with the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) ended September 30, 2016, and it was paid a management free of US $854,475, and not the US $7 million that Rowley mentioned at a press conference in Port of Spain last Friday.”. KCR seems to continually be talking about things he’s got no info on. THey seem to be pulling figures out of thing air, without proof.

    • Well, I raise you a ‘he who alleges must prove’. Let the gov’t provide the cheque # etc. Because there seem too many discrepancies, which should be easy to verify.
      And we note, that is a significant difference.

  6. It’s never anyone fault, it happens T&t loses money and no one is held accountable. let’s move on. Interesting how not a word from those who signed the original contractual agreement. There is also a disparity on the monies paid out. I await clarification. Whey the money gone?

  7. Somebody looking for a contract to Wade in

  8. Sports minister romper, shamphone n ms. Cheque too.

  9. They are just OJTS ministers. They are still learning.

  10. I am sorry about the level of frustration being expressed on this page, but when I read statements like a matter was ‘before his time, so he knew nothing about it’, it explains the entire government mindset. So if a matter (except allegations of corruption, apparently) arose before September 2015, it would not receive attention. But even if you were not there, your gov’t was in office, so the most you can do is pass the buck.
    Let’s see what excuse the PM is going to make when he apologises on behalf of the board, government, minister for this situation which is so much worse than shamfa and daryl put together, but for which I am yet to see an official statement (I am subject to correction).
    What makes it look worse is our judiciary promotes mediation, all parties were aware of the timelines and situation, but nobody sought to do anything.

  11. The games people play, otherwise known as ‘not me’. The more I read about this story, the more it stinks.
    And the irony is for the first time, we have a PM and Minister of Tourism from Tobago.
    Let us hope we are not hauled before any court for breach of contract, as I am sure we are for maritime treaties and oil spills affecting Venezuela and Bonaire.

  12. It don’t make any sence he don’t fire any one

  13. Planning, 5 year plan, 10 year plan, 2030 plan. Maybe somewhere in there, the planners were hoping Tobago will have self government and the provision of interisland transportation would fall under the remit of the government of Tobago. So the talk about it takes 3 years to order a boat,is really playing smart with foolishness!

  14. These guys working to the best of their ability how u wld fire apprentice workers

  15. what he said and nothing is the same

  16. Fix it if you dont have nothing to say try sucking your finger

  17. Fixin T&T arise from their slumber with the blame game. Really, Get serious. decades this crap going on, No money but buy a vessel, where are the voice of those most affected?

    • That’s not even close to what Fixin T&T said though. This has nothing whatsoever to do with buying a vessel.
      It is the way the change over was handled that left Tobago stranded and there is a trail of email and documents to show exactly how it happened.

    • Blame is attributed to Sinanan and Hinds and by extension the current government. What action do they want from Rowley, and what is it going to solve? Where are the solutions from all Trini critics? sometimes I wonder if people for real. Fire everybody, remove and what will we have anarchy. oh we will continue our downward spiral, for the last 20 years and 5 election musical chairs and nothing done,oops million stolen, I tired with the same thing over and over.

    • Rossana, did you read the story? It specifically stated what they thought went wrong and how it should have been addressed. I’m not sure what you mean.
      And if it is wrong to ask for change when Ministers mess up, then the country was wrong to move the last Gov’t? Can’t that same logic be used to justify no change at all?

    • Suddenly when anything go wrong in T&T everyone calling for change and resignation. is this a joke now?so after all the ole talk what now?

    • You just keep repeating the same stuff all the time (ironically!) but you don’t seem to be reading past the headline and excerpt. So I don’t see how we can discuss the story.
      Thanks for your view all the same…

    • Don’t waste your time trying to show some logic with this one. Remember the attack of the Borg from Star Trek? Well you will get the picture if you do? It’s hard to challenge the collective

    • I swore i was reading the comments from a UNC supporter but I had to catch myself

    • Oops millions stolen and no one in jail yet?

  18. @Averil:
    In order to find solutions, the problems must first be thoroughly exposed.

  19. Does anyone know if the Express and Spirit are running on schedule?

  20. There is a global recession and Trinidad is not immune to the financial shortage which we are currently experiencing. Hundreds of contractors still owed monies,everybody want something, Schools,Hospital, infrastructural works, workers contracts not renewed, the construction industry at a stand still. Since they came into power have you seen monies being spent across the board. there are certain projects that has to be concluded and cant . As Dr Rowley said , we can please everybody and pay them, and end up like neighbouring Venezuela (Trinis never think about that) The current government has a choice make prudent financial decisions to keep the country afloat and stable. Th elected government task it to oversee the affairs of the country not pander to the whims and fancy of disgruntled complainers. its all about I want , i want , what are you giving back? you can never please people no matter what the government do

    • So given that you said all of this, can you tell me why the govt isn’t going after the previous administration to at least get back some of the money to help reduce our financial woes? Also, the PM should have a serious talk with his ministers letting them know they should conserve on the expensive phone calls and taking expensive Tobago trips. After all they should tighten their belts like the rest of us too! All we are asking as a people is for accountability and proper management but apparently to you that is “gimme gimme” behavior. I guess those big time business people don’t suffer from that gimme gimme behaviour as well??? I wonder if Massey knows what gimme gimme means because they manage to get the govt to buy their company which is a pretty good move if you want to avoid possible financial downturn from competition and profit cuts due to economic hardship. We the citizens are looking and we are not into “Ali mama dem do it so it’s ok” attitude. We want the govt. to show us that they are different. By the way anybody accounted for.petrotrin oil spills under the present and pass regime? Bonaire is pretty upset at us right now because tar is getting into their marine parks and on their beaches. Bonfire have some the best dive sites in the world and tourism is their main income. Venezuela is not to happy with us too for that either. Let’s hope none of them decides to haul us before the courts.

    • I don’t understand it either – this ‘gimme gimme’ comment that you always throw in. It’s senseless to me

    • They just repeat what they hear from their leaders without actually thinking about it.

    • It must be, because there are hundreds of thousands of Trinidadians and Tobagonians who never asked the government for anything except for services which they pay for and to handle the country’s affairs properly.

    • All we want are the good and services that we pay for through our taxes.

    • Kelisha David and Mel Lissa, the PM warned the end of ‘gimme gimme’ attitude, but that did not extend to financiers, wives of ministers, or ministers themselves.
      Then he went on to say, essentially, the gov’t is not responsible for infrastructure either.
      So, how are we to benefit from property tax, if or when it is implemented?

    • We ain’t going to benefit from one a$$ Nerisha.

    • Kelisha David, Nerisha Mohammed, you expect this govt to ne accountable and above board when we’ve heard nothing more of emailgate?

  21. Really no money but got millions to acquire Massey, refurbish stadium, pay off party contractors, do massive road works, start the San Fernando waterfront, and much more????? Are you really trying to hit us with that argument hoping that it sticks?

  22. the issue now is there is no money for the gimmie gimme gang. In Trinidad, everybodyy want something

  23. I am tired with the political games trinis play just because the party they support holds the reign of control. Just because a problem existed before under previous administrations is not an excuse for it to continue under this one. Trinis need to grow up politically soon or we will send this beautiful island to hell with a bow of corruption wrapped around it.

    • My thoughts exactly Kelisha. Every day I find PNM supporters are more closely resembling PP supporters.
      And it is sickening. Nobody is talking about making the country works. It is just about who worse than who.

    • The PNM supporters are worst than the UNC to some extent because the UNC always held true to their sick mentality but the PNM, who were once news bearers of corruption and all that affected us during the last regime, are quite silent right now because they hoping to get a piece of crumbs from the ruling party Master’s table.

    • What I find highly strange is that people are talking about Ali mama and her 40 sticky hands but no one is asking why the ruling party hasn’t taken action against them despite the fact that on their campaign trail they boasted about corruption from the then govt. Again I strong believe that both parties are actually two parts of one giant party groomed by financiers to play on the high gullibility of the general population.This is just my theory

    • You could be on to something there Kelisha David 🙂

  24. stop the politicking, problems on the sea and air bridge going on for decades and nothing has been done. Suddenly you all want a miracle, Trinis suffer with amnesia conveniently. I tired with the games

    • To be fair, in a number of years, while the service has been bad, at least there had been some kind of service between the islands. The level of inconvenience, even suffering, being experienced now for a protracted period of time, was not really an issue in the fairly recent past. If vessels were down, it would have been for weeks. Not months.

    • This going on for years and Tobagonians are most affected, why are they silent. Who do they expect to fight their woes for them. Watson Duke talking all over the place where is he. They need to unite and put pressure on the government.