Former transport minister, Stephen Cadiz, under whose watch the Super Fast Galicia cargo vessel was contracted to operate between Trinidad and Tobago, wants to know why after 20 months in office the Government is now releasing the vessel on allegations of corruption without putting a proper alternative in place.
“Why are they doing this to Tobago?” he asked.
Cadiz said with the exception of the Government, none of the stakeholders, including the Tobago Chamber of and truckers, had a problem with the Galicia.
“The Galicia was 100 per cent on time while in T&T and it’s departure record was 99.9 per cent with no failure.”
He said investigating corruption has nothing to do with getting a proper vessel to replace the Galicia.
Cadiz said under his watch the Galicia was contracted in 2014 precisely because the Warrior Spirit was functioning on only one engine.
“When it came to our attention in December 2014 the Warrior was operating on one engine and we could not get the agents to respond in a comfortable manner, we felt we could no longer continue with that contract. The Warrior’s contract was supposed to end in August 2016.”
Cadiz said the Galicia arrived for that sole reason. “Can you imagine the mess we would have been in if the Warrior with its one engine, loaded with passengers and cargo, shut down? The safety and security issues we would have had?”
Cadiz said by January 2014, they started to look for a new vessel and by May that year the Galicia sailed into T&T.
He said the Government, if it wanted to, could have taken the decision to release the Galicia in a similar manner without any interruption in the cargo service to Tobago. “They had 20 months to do it.
“But in 2017, you are now looking to lay blame on a government that demitted office in 2015.”
Cadiz declined to comment on allegations of corruption in the procurement of the Galicia, only saying he is waiting on the Attorney General to complete his criminal investigation. “If there’s corruption, find it, deal with it and lock people up.”
The former minister expressed concern for citizens of Tobago who depends heavily on goods coming from Trinidad.
“The real issue is what is going to happen when there is no cargo service to Tobago?”
He charged the whole issue of corruption into the Galicia being touted by the Government is a major distraction and threw back allegations at the Government.
“To just allow the Galicia to sail out of the Bocas without putting something in place smacks of mismanagement, irresponsibility and just, basically, chaos.”
Cadiz questioned the tendering process of a replacement for the Galicia. “I heard the port chairman saying they are receiving offers daily.
“What is the tendering process for the new vessel? Where are these offers coming from? Who’s vetting these people?”
Concerning claims by the Hyatt Regency, located on the waterfront, it was experiencing “earthquakes” because of the movement of the Galicia, Cadiz said, if anything, that point to questions about the structural soundness of the hotel.
“Maybe somebody needs to do a proper structural survey of the Hyatt,” he suggested.
AG: EVIDENCE OF CORRUPTION
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has said there is evidence of corruption regarding how the Super Fast Galicia’s six-month contract turned into a two-year stint.
He said documents relating to the procurement of the Galicia were passed to him by Works Minister Rohan Sinanan upon instruction of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
“On the face of it, yes, there is corruption, including by those who were high office holders. The transactions are not on all fours.
“The timing, method and the particulars of the procurement, held side by side with the Cabinet knowledge and approval, are essential features of analysis in the report which I will produce,” al Rawi promised.