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Published: 
Friday, September 22, 2017
PM on Ocean Flower 2 return
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General Office, Stuart Young, during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Despite conspiracy theories on the sudden appearance of the controversial Ocean Flower 2 vessel, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says if the boat’s owner wanted to come to T&T it wasn’t a Port Authority of T&T or Government issue.

Rowley spoke about the matter during yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing as he fielded queries on the vessel’s sudden presence on Wednesday, even as owners Bridgemans Services LP made a second tender to PATT for the ferry service.

Rowley, noting the vessel’s arrival yesterday, said, “We understand how it looks.”

He added principals for the vessel may feel being in T&T is a good place at this point in time.

“We certainly want a boat, I’m anxious to have the Port select a vessel. If the Ocean Flower 2 was in Panama and wanted to come to T&T - so be it. But I don’t know that’s a Port or Government issue,” he said.

“I see they’ve said they put in a bid. But there are 12 vessels tendering - a lot more than last time and if there are 12 now there’s a good chance one will meet meet our needs.”

Rowley said anybody can sail into T&T, but he noted the OF2’s first contract had been terminated for reasons and the PATT had clearly said what the situation was.

“Subsequent to that, the Port went out to another tender and anybody with a boat is free to subscribe to the tender and the Port will evaluate what’s been subscribed to,” the PM said.

On a specific short term proposal by the Ocean Flower 2, Rowley said the PATT board had made it very clear about dealing with this particular vessel.

“The people are trying to get business. The Port chairman said they have terminated and gave reasons why.

They said they had arrangements with these people to bring their boat from Korea to Panama to be inspected in Panama before coming to T&T,” he said.

“But the boat didn’t pass muster. They had a period of time to bring it and were allowed an extension, but it didn’t come and the Port exercised the right to terminate.

“The Port went to a second tender which closed (Wednesday) and Ocean Flower 2 offered their boat - so be it. If they wanted to sail to T&T, let them sail, they’re free to tender.

It’s for the Port to now do an evaluation and determine what they do there.”

Rowley said some felt the issues that developed with the ferries arose within the Government, but he said the facts didn’t bear that out.

“We’ll tell T&T what the facts are and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

OPM Minister Stuart Young said the Ocean Flower 2 had gone for dry docking and repairs at Chaguaramas. He said Government’s legal position is the vessel’s contract had been cancelled and terminated in accordance with the contract and a new tender was issued.

“Anyone is allowed to put in (a tender) and be evaluated. We’re not being premature with the evaluation articulated by the Port,” Young said. See Pages A7 & A8

FORENSIC AUDIT OF PATT DOCUMENTS—YOUNG

Government has begun a forensic audit on documents concerning the Port Authority of T&T’s ferry service after “people” were suspended and phone, computer records and a computer server were seized, OPM Minister Stuart Young said yesterday.

Young confirmed this as he accused Joint Select Committee member Wade Mark of deliberately trying to mislead the public on actions which occurred at Wednesday’s JSC meeting on the ferry service where the Prime Minister appeared.

Young said Mark referred to a document the PM spoke about - an email from the Cabo Star’s first owner in Mexico to now suspended Port manager Leon Grant.

This was at an email address “patnt.com.”

Young said Mark attempted to suggest the PM referred to an email with the Port’s address - and that the PM’s evidence was questionable - and asked Grant leading questions on it. But Young noted the forensic audit being done on Port documents

Rowley slammed Mark, saying he acted deliberately.

“A former Speaker of the House...yet he misrepresented key facts to cast doubt on my presentation, presenting opportunity for a public officer - who has serious questions to answer - to give him a loophole to say it wasn’t his email. It’s reprehensible!”

Rowley said if the Second Session of Parliament - due to have ended at midnight last night - was still ongoing, Government would have Mark investigated by Parliament’s Privileges Committee.

He said the Third session of Parliament begins next Friday.