Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Airports in limbo with no AATT board as yet

Cadiz: We’re working to get it done

The Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) board is yet to be appoin­ted.

Sources say the previous board, which was chaired by Trevor Benja­min, expired on January 2 and cur­rent­ly, decisions pertaining to tenders and other matters involving the affairs of Piarco International and ANR Robin­­son Airports are at a standstill.

Contacted by the Sunday Express, Trans­port Minister Stephen Cadiz said: “We are working on getting it done.”

Cadiz was asked if he rec­om­mended former Tourism Devel­opment Company (TDC) chairman Brian Frontin for the AATT chairman’s post but the minister denied this. 

Asked if previous members of the board will be retained, Ca­diz said he could not say since the decision was for Cabi­net.

Sources told the Sunday Ex­press the services of Benjamin and deputy chairman Carol Cuffy-Dowlath will not be retained.

However, other board mem­bers Judith Baliram Ramoutar, Rishi Mahadeo, Prem­chan Saha­­deo, Ruthven Goddard and Carlisle Mark will have their appointments renewed.

Sources further said Maria Gonsalves, who resigned from the board in order to pur­sue her studies abroad, will also be retur­ning.

The Sunday Express was told Frontin was nominated by Cadiz to head the board but faced opposition from Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma.

Contacted last week, Sharma said he was

not in a position to answer as he was cur­rently out of the country. “I am in Spain on a conference. I have no idea what is going on over there (in T&T),” he said.

Asked whether he recommended Michael Aboud of Amalgamated Secu­-

rity Services Ltd for the post at AATT, Sharma said he could not comment before disconnecting the call.

The AATT board has been marred with controversy over the past two years.

Last year, Cadiz faced strong opposition from members of the AATT board over plans to appoint Frontin as a consultant. Frontin was named by Cadiz last year as the interim acting general manager of AATT.

Following the announcement, board mem­ber Susan Charles-Sylvester resigned, deeming Frontin’s appointment illegal since he did not have a master’s degree and was said to not have experience in dealing with issues related to airport management. 

The master’s degree is a requi­rement for the position.

Frontin’s  appointment was short-lived as less than 24 hours later, it was rescinded.

Sources say within one day, Ca­diz directed a new consulting po­sition be made for Frontin. Mem­bers of the board were given copies of the job specifications and contract but they have refused to sign off.

A copy obtained by the Sunday Ex­press

showed Frontin’s services were to be retained for six months. A monthly compensation package of $54,500 was also proposed.

Frontin’s appointment as acting general manager followed the resignation of former general manager Dayanand Birju on Septem­-

ber 17. Birju, in his resignation letter, said he resigned due to personal reasons. However, an investigation undertaken by the Sunday Express revealed Birju had tendered a falsi­fied certificate. This matter is engaging the attention of the police.

 Prior to Birju’s resignation, former AATT deputy chairman Kurt Ajodha also resigned.