Summary Of Montserrat Ferry Tender Procedure 2012


David S. Brandt

Release Date

Thursday, April 21, 2016



Between July 2012 and November 2012, Government of Montserrat and the Department for International Development (DfID) engaged in an elaborate tendering process for ferry operations between Montserrat and Antigua. This is how the process was conducted:

1. In July 2012, DfID contracted a company called Coffey International to organize and oversee the tendering and to provide a report with recommendations to Government of Montserrat (GOM). Coffey International hired an economist from Australia called Robert (Bob) Noakes to carry out the work on their behalf. Mr Noakes came to Montserrat in July 2012. He reported to Philip Chambers, the Permanent Secretary of Communications & Works and to Dr Kato Kimbugwe of DfID.

2. The work that Bob Noakes was required to carry out was as follows:
(i) To contact ferry owners and operators and other businessmen in the Caribbean and provide them with information that would get them interested in supplying, managing and operating a ferry between Montserrat and Antigua.
(ii) To investigate the level of interest in the private sector in the Caribbean in investing in a ferry as a joint venture with GOM. The requirement was for a ferry that would be larger, faster, more comfortable and more pleasing in appearance than the one that was operating at the time.
(iii) To advertise throughout the Caribbean that GOM was seeking a ferry operator.
(iv) To evaluate the proposals and make recommendations to GOM.

3. Mr Noakes and Mr Chambers arranged a series of field visits to various Caribbean islands to encourage ferry operators to send proposals to GOM. The visits were made in July, 2012 and were as follows:

(i) Mr Noakes and the Access Coordinator, Mr Martin, travelled to Guadeloupe and met with L’Express des Iles, the owners of Opale Express and other ferries that operate between Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia.
(ii) Mr Chambers and Mr Noakes went to St.Kitts and met with Captain Prince Mills and other ferry operators in St.Kitts and Nevis.
(iii) The team went to St. Maarten and met with two different ferry operators, one on the Dutch side and the other on the French side of St. Maarten. On the French side, they examined a vessel called the Voyager 3. They met with the Captain and they also spoke with the owner of that vessel, a gentleman called Jean-Claude Latournerie.
(iv) They went to Tortola and Virgin Gorda. They met with three ferry operators. These were Smith’s Ferry, Speedy’s and a man called Bobby Hodge.
(v) They went to Antigua and met with the owners of the Codrington Arrow - the Development Bank of Antigua and Barbuda.
(vi) Mr Noakes went to Grenada and met with a company called Osprey Grenada.

4. The next step taken by the Ministry of Communications & Works and Bob Noakes was to publish what they called a Request for Expressions of Interest. This was a short document that invited those interested in operating the ferry service to send a request to the Access Coordinator at the Ministry of Communications and Works so that he may send them a copy of the ferry prospectus.

5. In October 2012, the Request for Expressions of Interest was published in the following newspapers in the Caribbean:
(i) The Trinidad Express
(ii) The St.Lucia Star
(iii) The St.Maarten Herald
(iv) The BVI Beacon (Tortola)
(v) The Antigua Observer
(vi) The St.Kitts-Nevis Observer
(vii) The Montserrat Reporter
(viii) In September 2012, the Request for Expressions of Interest was published on the Government of Montserrat website.

6. A number of requests were received by the Ministry of Communications & Works. The ferry prospectus was sent out to those who requested them. The ferry prospectus was a 14 page document that explained all the requirements for a ferry and for the ferry operator. Among other things, it indicated the following:
(i) That GOM had done a study and the estimated cost of the ferry was £3 million or about US$4.76 Million.
(ii) That GOM would enter into a contract with the successful bidder for a period of 3 – 5 years. It specifically stated the first three years of the contract as 2014, 2015 and 2016.
(iii) It gave estimates of revenue from passenger tickets and from cargo.
(iv) That the ferry must have a seating capacity of 120-150 passengers.
(v) That the ferry must be able to make the trip between Montserrat and Antigua in one hour and fifteen minutes.
(vi) That GOM and DfID were also considering purchasing a purpose-built ferry to be owned by GOM but to be operated by a private entity.

7. The deadline for the submission of proposals based on the prospectus was 19th October 2012. This date was later extended to 26th October 2012.

8. Eight responses were received by GOM. They were as follows:

(i) There was a proposal from Wall Trading in Montserrat along with L’Express des Iles of Guadeloupe. They offered a vessel called "the Gold Express".
(ii) There was a second proposal from Wall Trading in Montserrat along with L’Express des Iles of Guadeloupe. This was to manage and operate a ferry if GOM would buy or purchase one.
(iii) There was a response from M & M Transportation of St.Kitts, a company owned by Prince Mills. M & M Transportation offered to operate the Government owned ferry.
(iv) Smith’s Ferries of Tortola offered to lease a ferry to GOM for a period of three years.
(v) Twin Islands Ferry Services of Antigua offered to provide the service using the M.V. Codrington Arrow.
(vi) Mobico Shipping of Norway sent information on three catamaran ferries.
(vii) Solid Marketing Solutions of Antigua offered to provide marketing services.
(viii) Jon Nunns of Montserrat offered to form a new company to purchase and operate a ferry if the British Government would provide a loan to that Company.

9. Prior to the publication of the Request for Expressions of Interest and the sending out of the ferry prospectus, the matter went to the Cabinet of the Government of Montserrat. The Cabinet Paper was dated 17th September 2012 and was presented by the Honourable Charles T. Kirnon, the Minister of Communications & Works in the Government of Montserrat.

10. The Public Procurement Board and more specifically, a gentleman called Franklyn Algie Greaves was directly involved in the tendering process. On the 29th of October 2012, Mr Oral Martin, the Access Coordinator sent the following email to Franklyn Greaves, the Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Finance:

"Mr Greaves

It was previously agreed that Dr Robert Noakes of Australia who has been working on this assignment throughout, will be asked to undertake an evaluation of the repsonses received to the calls for Expression of Interest for the acquisition and operation of a new ferry and a Twin-Otter aircraft for Montserrat.

Dr Noakes is undertaking his work as part of a consultancy which has certain deadlines. I should be grateful if the Public Procurement Board could arrange to have copies of all the responses made available to him as soon as possible. It appears that there are two options for so doing. One may be for the documents to be photocopied and sent to him by courier. The other may be to scan and e-mail them to him.

I am aware that there are certain procedures that the Procurement Board may have to follow. I am also aware that a formal request may have to be sent by the P.S. Communication & Works to the Board.

I should be grateful for your guidance and assistance as well as your timely response.

Oral Martin"

11. On the 30th of October 2012, Mr Franklyn Algie Greaves, the Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Finance sent a response by email to Oral Martin, the Access Coordinator which was copied to Philip Chambers and others. Mr Greaves’ email stated as follows:

"As you no doubt will be aware, the deadline for tender submissions for the aquisition and operation of a new ferry and a twin otter aircraft for Montserrat has been extended from 19th October to 26th October. The deadline has now passed and a meeting of the Public Procurement Board (PPB) will be convened shortly to open the tender submissions.

In the meantime, the procurement procedures that guide this process needs to be followed. It is a requirement that the procuring entity (which in this case is MCW) submit the name/s of a maximum of two individuals that they propose to undertake the evaluation of the tender submissions. The PPB must approve these individuals to comprise the evaluation committee.

With respect to your request, the bids can only be made available to the evaluation team after they have been opened by the PPB. Immediately after they are opened, they will be handed to a representative from MCW to be evaluated by the evaluation team.

The PPB propose to convene a meeting to open the tenders on Tuesday November 06th at 1330pm.

In the meantime, I will request from Mr Chambers the names of the individuals proposed to comprise the evaluation committee.

Franklyn A. Greaves
Procurement Officer
Ministry of Finance & Economic Management."

12. On the 31st of October 2012, Mr Franklyn Algie Greaves, the Procurement Officer sent out an invitation to various people inviting them to a meeting of the Public Procurement Board that he had arranged. His invitation read as follows:


Please be advised that a meeting of the Public Procurement Board will convene on Tuesday 06th November 2012 in the conference room of the Office of the Premier. At this meeting, it is proposed that submissions for Expressions of Interest for a new Ferry & Twin Otter Service will be opened. It is also proposed that tender submissions for the installation of Ducts and Construction of Manholes from

Caribbean Cable in Salem to the Telephone Exchange in Runaway Ghaut will be opened.

It is very important that all members make a very special effort to attend and be on time. Attached are the tender documents for the above mentioned contracts for your information."

13. On the 5th day of November 2012, Franklyn Algie Greaves sent the following email message to Philip Chambers, the P.S. in the Ministry of Communications & Works:

"Mr Chambers,

The Public Procurement Board have approved that Mr Oral Martin and Dr Robert Noakes comprise the evaluation team for the Ferry and Twin Otter tender submissions.


Franklyn Algie Greaves
Procurement Officer"

14. The evaluation of the proposals was undertaken. Robert Noakes prepared a draft report in December 2012 and his Final Report was completed in February 2013. Mr Noakes concluded that "No EOI was found to be acceptable to GOM (and to DFID) in relation to the future role of the private sector in providing Montserrat with a new ferry and its operation (utilising an existing, new or to be constructed ferry)". He made a number of recommendations, including the following:

(i) The GOM and DFID should proceed to seek DFID investment approval in the investment and construction of a purpose-built ferry for Montserrat, based on the findings of the earlier Access Studies and Economic Appraisal documents.

(ii) GOM should seek to utilise alternative existing ferry craft for only short-term peak periods…

(iii) GOM should liaise with Capt. Prince Mills (M&M Shipping) to obtain details of the ‘Caribe Surf’ (drawings, engine specifications, options for stabilisers, cargo latches, cargo winch/crane).

(iv) Locate and liaise with Capt. Prince Mills’ previous Marine Architect as to the general design requirements for a Montserrat purpose-built vessel (passenger capacity/freight capacity mix, engine size, stability options) [to be in conjunction with CNB design documentation].

(v) Liaise with CNB Bordeaux France for design details, drawings, specifications for 27-30 m twin hull ferries, alternative passenger configurations to handle 180-225 passengers (plus freight), most appropriate engine make/size/configuration (e.g. Caterpillar or Cummins), cargo capacity.

(vi) Discuss with Capt. Mills his potential role as an Advisor/Technical Consultant to GOM for the contract discussions, construction, engine selection, commissioning and sea trialling of the vessel.

15. I am reliably informed that after the tendering process, Bob Noakes recommended that GOM acquire its own purpose-built ferry and in the meantime, negotiate directly with captain Prince Mills to get him to operate the service until GOM obtained its own purpose built ferry. Between December 2012 and February 2013, Captain Prince Mills had operated several charters between Montserrat and Antigua on behalf of GOM. In March 2013, GOM decided to start operating a day trip every Thursday specifically to attract tourists from Antigua. They decided to use the M.V. Caribe Surf owned by Captain Mills.

16. My further information is that GOM, with the consent of DfID, continued negotiating with Captain Prince Mills and eventually persuaded him to purchase a ferry specifically to operate between Montserrat and Antigua. In November 2013, Captain Mills and his business partner registered a company in Montserrat called CARIBE TRANSPORT Limited and they purchased the M.V. Caribe Sun. I am informed that this ferry was purchased for more than US$4 million, a figure close to the one quoted in the ferry prospectus.

17. I am also informed that each year, MCW would send the ferry contract to the Office of the Attorney-General for its approval before it is signed. There was no annual tendering. The Opale Express operated in Montserrat for 5 years. There was no annual tendering. The Caribe Queen operated for about three years. There was no annual tendering.

18. I have good reason to believe that, in a sitting of Parliament in early 2013, the matter of the tendering procedure for the ferry contract was raised by the then Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Donaldson Romeo. A series of questions were put to the Government of the day. Question No. 6 concerned tendering for the ferry contract. In his response, Charles Kirnon, the then Minister of Communications and Works was careful to inform the Honourable Donaldson Romeo along the following lines:

"There were a total of eight responses to the call for Expressions of Interest regarding the procurement of a purpose built ferry for Montserrat. These responses were sent to the Consultant working on this assignment. The Consultant provided a draft report in December 2012. The report is being discussed with the consultant and he is expected to provide his final Evaluation Report shortly."

19. I am further reliably informed that in July 2014, the responsible Minister of State in the United Kingdom granted his approval for DfID and GOM to proceed with the procurement of a purpose built ferry for Montserrat. By this time, the same Bob Noakes had already prepared an appropriate set of technical specifications of an appropriate ferry - 2 decks for tourists and residents; chilled cargo area; cargo crane; ride stabilization; WI-Fi etc - in a colourful decor to appeal to tourists off the cruise ships and to hotel/resort visitors in Antigua and in the region generally. Two months later, the Government changed.

20. The Honourable Premier, Mr Donaldson Romeo must come and tell the people of Montserrat what he has done to follow through on the approval by the Minister of State in London of a purpose-built ferry for Montserrat. This was the main result of the very tendering process that the Honourable Premier claims did not take place. This was the recommendation of the consultant, Bob Noakes.

21. The Honourable Premier must explain to the nation what happened to the tendering that took place for the position of Access Coordinator which started in February 2015 and concluded in November 2015. After the unfortunate demise of Horatio Tuitt of blessed memory, one David "Trixie" Duberry was appointed to act as Access Coordinator while Government advertised for someone to fill the permanent position. They advertised in February 2015. They received a number of applications and eventually shortlisted four persons. A panel was set up to interview the four finalists. The interviews took place. The panel evaluated the four finalists and made a recommendation for a certain young Montserratian to fill the position. That young Montserratian journeyed all the way from England in December 2015 to negotiate a contract and a date for him to take up the position of Access Coordinator. That young man is now back in England and David "Trixie" Duberry is still acting as Access Co-ordinator.

22. There are many other questions that the Honourable Premier has to answer:

(i) For example, is it not true that Minister Paul Lewis and Permanent Secretary Beverly Mendes were ready to proceed with signing a new contract with Captain Prince Mills but were stopped by the Premier from doing so?

(ii) Is it not true that Captain Mills came to Montserrat on 29th March 2016 and waited for three full days for the Honourable Premier to talk to him and the Premier refused?

(iii) Is it not true that up to when the Premier took the decision not to renew Captain Mills’ contract thereby leaving Montserrat stranded without a ferry, that neither he nor the Acting Access Coordinator had spoken with Prince Mills.

(iv) Is it not true that Prince Mills had already agreed to include additional performance measures in the new contract and was himself ready to sign the contract?

(v) Is it not true that after the Premier would not make a decision to renew the contract, it was Beverly Mendes and Prince Mills who agreed to a daily charter while they continued to wait for the Premier?

(vi) Is it not true that up to this day, the Premier has not written to Captain Mills to inform him that his contract will not be renewed?

(vii) Is Government of Montserrat paying the cargo vessel that is transporting cargo from Antigua to Montserrat and if so, how much does the Government intend to pay the owner of that vessel?

(viii) Most importantly, when will the Premier find a new ferry for the ordinary people of Montserrat who cannot afford to travel by air to Antigua to conduct their business in Antigua? And when will Premier Romeo proceed with the project for a purpose-built ferry to be owned by the people of Montserrat as agreed by the Minister of State?

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Editor's Note: MNI Alive Media has also spoken with the Access Coordinator who was in the position in 2012, who has further furnished us with facts of the 8 tenders that were received and the process involved. 

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