“We did not buy pig in bag; the vessel underwent stress tests and everything else… It was the most viable option immediately available.”  That is the gist of the position taken by Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar as he responded this afternoon to accusations of imprudent spending levelled against his ministry by APNU+AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Ganesh Mahipaul.

The MP spoke earlier today as he accompanied Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton at a press conference. There, he said that the Public Works Ministry wasted some $180M on a tugboat to ply the Essequibo route.

The vessel was purchased from Larry Singh, the same businessman involved in the infamous drug bond scandal.

Mahipaul said, “When you look at that vessel, it is like if we have gone back in time. Knowing that we are an oil producing nation, one would have thought that the focus would have been to buy a vessel that can bring comfort to the traveling population. There is inadequate seating capacity for people on that vessel.”

He continued, “It is an open out kind of tug that basically moves very slow, and the people are left to the natural weather, whether it’s sunlight or rain. We are questioning the rationale spending $180 million dollars on this.”

In a later note to the media, Mahipaul referred to the vessel as an “old tugboat” brought into Guyana by Singh from the Dominican Republic.

He said the boat being used to ferry vehicles and people across the Essequibo River is roughly 26 years old and has no proper accommodation for passengers.

“The big question is, why purchase an old tugboat for such a high cost? Why could the government not purchase a new vessel with proper comfort for the traveling population,” the MP questioned.

Speaking to Guyana Standard this afternoon, Minister Indar said the boat was secured to ply the Essequibo route primarily for the movement of vehicles, but it can accommodate a small number of passengers. The boat complements two others that ply the same route, Sabantu and Kanawan.

Indar said that the boat in question burns less fuel than the other vessels being used on the same route.

The Minister said that when COVID hit, many shipyards went out of business. Now, most of the existing shipyards are not building new vessels at the moment.

If not to build, the other option available to the government would have been to find newer boats, and those were not as available.  “The fact is, we had an immediate need. We had to utilize the best option available to us,” the minister stressed.

Indar made reference to an incident last year when a vessel was down due to a gear, “and that situation gave us hell, just a simple gear was needed. When those things happen, the people who rely on the vessels are put under pressure. We try to avoid those situations.”

Indar told this publication that the boat underwent the necessary tests and that it has been found to be working well. “We did not buy pig in bag…it is an aged boat, but it is fit for purpose.”


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