Lee wants MOWT and Port Authority to reveal cost of drydocking vessel

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Lee wants MOWT and Port Authority to reveal cost of drydocking vessel

Opposition MP David Lee is calling on Works Minister Rohan Sinanan and the Port Authority to give the actual cost of the White Marlin drydocking vessel, which he claims is costing taxpayers close to US$5 million.

The White Marlin is being used as a floating dry dock for repairs to the T&T Spirit and has also been used recently for other inter-island ferries.

Lee, during UNC’s Sunday media briefing, at the UNC’s headquarters in Chaguanas, said the White Marlin is owned by the Dutch Boskalis firm.

“We’re asking questions since millions have been spent on this vessel. I’ve calculated, based on what Minister Sinanan said in a January 23rd 2024 TV6 interview after the vessel entered T&T on January 21. Minister Sinanan said the vessel is in T&T waters for one month, at a cost of US$2.5 million and it was brought for use as a floating dock for works on the APT James, the Buccoo Reef and the T&T Spirit,” Lee said.

“But it (White Marlin) is still in our waters. The repairs to these three vessels are actually finished with the T&T Spirit completed approximately last Thursday. So the White Marlin has been in our waters from January. But Minister Sinanan said the vessel was only in our waters for one month at a cost of US$2.5m and we’ve worked out some maths that this vessel has been in our waters at least 74 days at a cost of approximately between US$80,000 to US$100,000,” Lee claimed.

“That’s close to US$5m just having the vessel alone doing repairs to the three other vessels. This isn’t including cost of any of their repairs,” he alleged.

Lee called for Sinanan and the Port chairman to give the actual cost of having the White Marlin in Trinidad and Tobago from January 21 to approximately April 5 and if they spent close to US$5m.

“And tell us who got that money as we understand it was paid to an agent in T&T…and we also want the entire cost of the dry and wet dock repairs of the three ferries,” he added.

Lee is also asked why Caridoc’s dry dock facility wasn’t used for the repairs after Government took over Caridoc from the Clico assets.

He noted in Parliament in 2023 Government had stated a competent group of people had been appointed as Caridoc’s board and the purchase would have saved taxpayers millions as Caridoc would have been able to dry dock Government vessels.

“But now you see Government is bringing in under Minister Sinanan a floating dry dock—the White Marlin—to do the same thing Caridoc can do. So we ask why Caridoc wasn’t used for the dry docking of these three vessels? I hope Government doesn’t say Caridoc’s dry dock sunk or failed under their watch and that’s why they had to bring in the White Marlin!” Lee added.

He said questions will be filed in Parliament on this issue and also on the owner of the tug and barge involved in the oil spill which affected Tobago since February 7.