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Ship builders to look at water taxis

Published: 
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Galleons Passage arriving at Damex Shipyard, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. PICTURE NIDCO

A team from the Austal Shipping Company is now in Trinidad and Tobago and will inspect the four water taxis and six Coast Guard vessels to report back to the Government on the state of the vessels and make recommendations for the maintenance of the vessels.

The team, which arrived in the country less than a week after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley returned from his China/Australia trip, will also visit some of the shipyards and dry dock facilities available locally “to ascertain the viability of developing a facility to offer maintenance and other services out of Trinidad,” according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Austal team will also make suggestions “towards getting all of the vessels operational and seaworthy, as well as provide a proposed maintenance programme for the vessels.”

However, the release gave no indication of how long the team will be in the country or the cost to taxpayers of the visit and the work to be done.

The Prime Minister’s Office indicated only that it expects that Austal’s report will be provided to the Government in the “coming weeks.” That report will include suggestions towards getting all of the vessels operational and seaworthy, and will also provide a proposed maintenance programme for the vessels.

Meantime, there is confirmation that work on the Galleons Passage which has been docked in Cuba since May 26, is yet to begin.

National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) Chairman Herbert George said there were two reasons for the delay.

One was the “details for the structural elements were slow in coming.”

Having received the details of retrofit work to be done, George said they now have to source the material for the work to be done from foreign suppliers in Holland and Australia.

He confirmed that the delay means that the original price tag between US$350,000 -$400,000 announced in March by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in March will increase.

“The state wants to have the vessel here and in service, where contracts are involved there will be room for outfitting charges and things like that. That discussion will come later.”

Three months ago on March 2, Nidco announced eight items of work which had to be done on the Galleons Passage at the Damen Shipyard.

Three were to be paid for by the seller; those were the sealing of the gap between the ramp door and the hull of the vessel, installation of the canopy on the vehicle deck to protect against the sea spray and installation of anchor rings for securing vehicles on the vehicle deck.

The T&T government was to pay for the installation of full canopies over the sundeck, installation and outfitting of additional male and female washroom facilities on the sundeck, installation of café/bar facilities on the starboard and port side of the sundeck, remodelling of the urinals in the men’s washroom including removal of the existing trough urinals and installation of fixing rails for new seating on the passenger deck.

According to Nidco, the existing bench seating is to be replaced with contoured seats.

Last Friday, Nidco in a release noted that there was a setback in beginning the work because of a delay in the completion of the designs and the consequent problem of drawings approved by the seller.

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