Sunshine Issue #007 (5.07.13) - page 3

OUR COVER STORY
By Senior Reporter Azad Ali
Has the Government
squashed a $1.4 bil-
lion contract, which was
signed between The Ve-
hicle Management Cor-
poration of Trinidad and
Tobago (VMCOTT) and
Natural Energy Vehicle In-
frastructure Corporation
of Trinidad and Tobago
(NEVICOTT) to convert
all Public Transport Ser-
vice Corporation (PTSC)
Buses and Maxi-taxis to
compressed natural gas
(CNG)?
VMCOTT and NEVICOTT
had signed a two-year con-
tract in August last year
but last Thursday, Energy
Minister Kevin Ramnarine
announced that Cabinet ap-
proved a $500 million CNG
project to be undertaken by
the National Gas Company
(NGC).
Reports are that the gov-
ernment may be facing legal
action for reneging on the
contract.
Ramnarine told a post-
Cabinet press briefing at the
Office of the Prime Minister,
St Clair, that the five-year-
long project will be done in
two phases, the first being
over a two-year period and
will be directed towards ve-
hicular conversions to CNG.
The Energy Minister said
NGC’s proposal is aimed
at using the $500 million to
RENEGING
ON
CNG CONTRACT
CHANDRESH SHARMA
JOE PIRES
convert 17, 500 vehicles to
CNG, which would include
maxi-taxis, buses, and Gov-
ernment vehicles in Trinidad
and Tobago, with the em-
phasis being on Govern-
ment vehicles.
On January 31, 2011,
NEVICOTT was set up as a
limited liability company by
Michael John, a banker of
Agra Street, St James, Port
of Spain.
In February of the same
year, Keith King, another
banker of the same address
was listed as one of the di-
rectors.
John’s
wife
Denise
Gomes, an investor, joined
the company as another di-
rector in August. However,
some four months later (De-
cember2011) King ceased
to be a director, leaving John
and his wife in the company.
VMCOTT was appointed
as a sole selective provider
by the Government for the
Natural Gas Programme for
the conversion of a certain
number of PTSC buses and
maxi-taxis to CNG.
In August last year VM-
COTT sealed the CNG deal
with NEVICOTT to be com-
pleted within a two-year
period (September 2012 to
August 2014), as the sole
selector.
The initial payment on
signing the contract was
supposed to be $20 million
and thereafter a monthly
payment of $62, 109,296,
69 up to August 1, 2014,
amounting to a total of
$1,490, 623, 120.71.
The contract was signed
by former VMCOTT Chair-
man, Michael Charbonne
and NEVICOTT, represent-
ed by its present chairman
and CEO Michael John.
At the time Devant Ma-
haraj was the Minister of
Transport with responsibility
for VMCOTT.
Chandresh Sharma, pres-
ently Minister of Transport,
holds responsibility for VM-
COTT.
There are several ques-
tions to be answered. Did the
Cabinet last Thursday ap-
prove the $500 million CNG
project to be undertaken by
NGC ( chaired by failed for-
mer WASA Chairman, Indar
Maharaj) to replace the agree-
ment between VMCOTT and
NEVICOTT that was signed
almost a year ago?
How is it that there are
similar elements in the
agreement of August 14,
2012 in the Cabinet note
of last Thursday? Why has
there has been no Board
meetings of VMCOTT since
January 10, 2013 to the
present time? Has the 2012
CNG agreement or any sub-
sequent CNG agreement
been vetted by the VMCOTT
board and/or the AG’s of-
fice? If yes, when?
The new VMCOTT Board
(same old Board) with only
a new chairman, Joe Pires,
was sworn in last Friday by
Sharma at the Ministry of
Transport.
Reports are that the new
PTSC board was never privy
to the $500m CNG contract
to be undertaken by NGC.
PTSC officials are asking
how is it the agreement was
signed to convert 400 buses
when there are about 250,
about 50 which are parked
up on the compound of the
PTSC “graveyard” waiting
for repairs?
It is alleged that there
could have possibly been
kickbacks of millions in the
NEVICOTT contract, but
because of the tight finan-
cial situation in the country,
there may be less kickbacks
in the NGC deal.
Trinidad and Tobago may
soon be dubbed the corrup-
tion country of the world un-
der the PP administration.
There are allegations
about a billion dollar Petit
Morne land deal, a $998
DEVANT MAHARAJ
KEVIN RAMNARINE
million Chaguaramas de-
velopment project contract,
allegedly given to two close
friends of certain ministers –
one of whom is the husband
of a Minister.
There are also allega-
tions of certain government
ministers and top officials
in a spending spree, paying
for over-priced properties in
foreign countries. These are
reportedly only the tip of
the iceberg.
Some of these Buses that may be Converted to C.N.G.
1,2 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,...32
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