An investigation has been launched into the acquisition of the MV Su, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.
Transport Minister Devant Maharaj on Sunday took the Express on an exclusive tour of the 600-seater passenger vessel which is currently berthed at the dock yard of Inter Isle Construction Co Ltd, Chaguaramas.
A total of $53.5 million has been spent so far to purchase, repair and maintain the MV Su but it has never sailed.
It was to be used as part of the fleet for the water taxi service between Port of Spain and San Fernando.
Former works and transport Minister Colm Imbert had distanced himself from the multi-million-dollar transaction, saying questions should be posed to Roger Joseph, former minister in the ministry of works and transport under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government.
Joseph is now employed as the Vice President of Corporate Services at the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO). The boat was purchased by NIDCO.
The Express made several attempts to contact Joseph yesterday on his cellphone and office but up to press time he had not returned the calls.
The Express obtained a report yesterday dated August 27, 2008, which shows Joseph was the person who recommended the purchase of the MV Su.
On the cover letter of the report, Joseph is named as the person who prepared the report, which was submitted to Imbert.
In the report, Joseph stated that there were sea trials for the MV Su.
“The sea trial lasted approximately two hours with the vessels performing a series of manoeuvres at varying aspects in calm waters, similar to what obtains in the Gulf of Paria,” he stated.
He added that during the trials the vessel performed at speeds up to 37 knots and was “manoeuvred in tight turns, wide circles and a full crash stop.”
Joseph stated there were also extensive discussions with the independent technical surveyors and consultants who “determined that the technical condition and performance of the vessel is reasonably good, given the age of the vessel”.
“Based on the technical report and the condition of the vessel observed at the sea trial, I recommend the purchase of the MV Su Jet, at the cost of Euros two million six hundreds and seventy eight thousand (Euros $2, 678,000),” the report stated.
“I further recommend that the necessary repairs and maintenance required to improve the condition of the asset be conducted in Curacao, under the supervision of a qualified and experience surveyor to be appointed by NIDCO,” Joseph stated further in the report.
Maharaj has disclosed that the MV Su was purchased in 2008 for $25 million and some $27 million more was spent on repairs and maintenance.
In a statement to the Parliament in 2010, Jack Warner, who then had the responsibility for the water taxi service, disclosed that “the recommendation to purchase the vessel and conduct repairs in Curacao using the services of a qualified and experienced surveyor was made by the previous minister of state in the ministry of works and transport, Roger Joseph, and Ms Kaisha Ince, past president of NIDCO”.
At that time Warner had questioned what experience Joseph and Ince had in ship purchasing, inspection and surveying.