Monday, June 18, 2018


It is impossible to get a clear picture of what is happening with the "now-you-see-it-now-you--don't" Galleons Passage ferry. The three newspapers in this country  (deliberately or incompetently ... you choose) have simply been reporting what NIDCO has been feeding them and if they have done any independent research they certainly haven't reported on it. Why they haven't is, of course, a rather serious question that deserves to be answered. That we will never get a proper answer from any of the newspapers as to why they haven't been reporting and asking questions  is a given. I have never seen any of them ever admit either to incompetence or bias. And I cannot think of any another as to why their collective reporting has been so shallow.

Let's start from the beginning:
a) When the new PNM Government came into power at the end of 2015 one of it's earliest decisions was to scrap the old ferry arrangement that the previous PP Government had in place. There were various reasons given which can be summed up by the allegations that the whole process in giving the contract for that ferry reeked of corruption and that in any case the ferry was not working well.
b) The next thing was that in January of this year with the 'sea bridge' collapsing the Minister of Finance announced in Parliament that a brand new ferry had  been purchased for US$17.5 million and it would be here by the end of March.
c) We were then told that this brand new ferry was coming from China and would have to go to Cuba to get some extra toilets and a canopy installed on the sundeck for US$350,000. Nobody bothered to ask (the newspapers again) why the extra work was being done in Cuba and why it couldn't be done in Trinidad. I guess that is too complicated a question to ask.
d) Then we find out that this ferry had been ordered by a Venezuelan businessman to operate on a river but that he couldn't pay for it so we got it. Questions: did this Venezuelan businessman pay any money down? Did he lose his deposit and did we get the benefit of that deposit? If not, why not? If we did, what was the amount that we saved?
e) Then the ferry's sailing date is postponed and then when it finally leaves Shanghai it sails south to Hong Kong before sailing north again passing Shanghai on its way to Hawaii. Why? This didn't make sense but I guess there was a good reason. But don't you think that we should know? Or is this a State secret?
f) Then it trundles across the Pacific at the slow speed of 11 knots ... which is about 13 miles an hour. Now, pay attention because then we are told that the ferry will be here by mid April. But if you did the maths you would have seen that there was no way that the ferry could have been here before end April/early May.
g) Then we are told that the brand new ferry suffered a mechanical problem in its journey across the Pacific and needed a new part when it arrived in Acapulco and so it had to wait for the part to arrive. But, hello! The last time I looked there was a rather magical device called a radio. You are going to tell me that the crew didn't know that the part had failed and didn't radio ahead for the part so that it would be waiting for them on arrival in Acapulco? Again, the newspapers (all three) don't ask these questions. Why?
h) Then the boat finally gets to Cuba where we are told that here will have to be some extensive refitting and two more engines have to be installed. To which I say 'what'?! When did they know this? And why, if they knew it from before couldn't all the parts have been ordered and waiting in Cuba for the ferry to arrive? Again, the three newspapers are like the famous three little monkeys who hear nothing, see nothing and say nothing.
i) Then we are told that these extra works will now cause the boat to be here in mid July. To which I can only say 'Really'?

Other questions also come up that haven't been asked by our mainstream media. For example, the distance in sea miles between Port of Spain and Scarborough is approximately 90 miles. Do the maths. This ferry is reported to cruise at 11 knots (approximately 13 miles an hour). There is no way that it can do that journey in 3 to 3 1/2 hours at that speed. So? How fast is it? And is that speed fully laden or empty? Because an empty boat is faster than a fully laden one. Again, the press hasn't asked this question! Why?

I'm not going to go on. But you get the point. At the end of the day the most important question is will the @#$%^&* ferry do the job that it is supposed to do? I sincerely hope so, for the livelihoods of a lot of people are depending on it. But after that question is answered then, at the very least all the other questions (including those that I haven't asked) need to be answered ... by everybody!

Finally, to the three newspapers, I honestly don't mind if you are biased and do not want to ask questions that are embarrassing to the political party that you support. But, if that is the case, then be honest and confess to your bias. If you haven't asked the questions that need to be answered because of incompetence then, again, confess to your incompetence. And if there is another reason why you didn't want to ask these questions then tell us what that reason is. Because, quite frankly, your silence on this leaves the ordinary thinking person with most unfortunate and unnecessary suspicions that are not good for confidence in the democratic process.


  1. Very few people in the Republic ask questions of the establishment. They accept that the people they elect are their best and brightest and those folks make the best decisions in their interest. They are programmed to never question authority figureheads

  2. A very good post as always, Robin, but with some errors that should be corrected. For starters the ferry sailed from Shenzhen to HK, then to Shanghai to take on extra fuel tanks (and where reputedly many of its crew jumped ship because they thought it was unfit for the open ocean), then to Japan where mysteriously it also took on extra fuel tanks, then to Hawaii, then to Acapulco, then to the Panama Canal and finally to Cuba. It was on the Hawaii-Acapulco leg that the boat developed mechanical problems with the cooling pump for the starboard engine, and it was forced to travel on the port engine only at a speed of only 4 knots (and it had to be accompanied by another vessel, the cost of which has never been disclosed!). Then there is the question of the extended berthing fees that have accrued in EVERY port en route, beginning with HK and now in Santiago, Cuba. Ships are like aeroplanes, and must pay a per diem for every day they are berthed in a port, but neither NIDCO nor any of the line Ministers who have to date spoken at length about the ferry (Imbert, Sinanan, Al Rawi, Young) have ever once spoken about these charges. Finally, cudoes for calling out the media for their silence in the face of what amounts to an astonishing mystery, one that grows more mysterious with each passing day. One would think that they would have by now figured out that there is something fishier here than what is washing up on the beaches in La Brea and either dispatch a reporter or else contact a fellow journalist in Cuba to go do some on site investigating. We can only hope for this, but meanwhile please keep blogging because it is voices like yours that make the difference when we only hear the sound of flies swarming over what the Government dishes out to us.