Transtejo’s board of directors resigned this Thursday. The decision was announced at a press conference in the early afternoon, at the headquarters in Lisbon, by Marina Ferreira, chairman of the board of directors.
Questioned by journalists if the resignation request has already been accepted by the Government, the official said that she still does not know about the decision of the Ministries of Environment and Finance, which are in charge.
At issue is the fact that the carrier acquired ten electric catamarans from a Spanish company for 52.4 million euros to transport passengers between Lisbon and the South Bank of the Tagus, through an international public tender, but only one battery – equipment without the which vessels cannot sail. Then he tried to buy these accumulators separately for another 15.5 million, but by direct agreement, from the same Spanish company from which the ships had been purchased. For the Court of Auditors, which issued a devastating ruling refusing the visa prior to the second acquisition, buying catamarans without batteries is equivalent to buying a car “without an engine”, a “bicycle without pedals” or a “motorcycle without wheels”.
The chairman of Transtejo’s board of directors, Marina Ferreira, denies that the body she directs has practiced any illegality in this process, contrary to what the judges of the Court of Auditors concluded. “Management implies taking risks in a calculated way”, said the manager. “Our action defended the public interest. We made the choice that we thought was best for the public purse”, she also guaranteed. “I’m sad,” she finished, lamenting the judges’ “lack of respect” for carrier administrators.
For the Court of Auditors, “one cannot even speak of ships without batteries, just as one cannot speak, for example, of ships without an engine or rudder. This is because they are an integral part of these ships”. they limited themselves, however, to rejecting the purchase of batteries, separately and by direct agreement, which Transtejo intended to make. determination of the financial or even criminal responsibilities of the river transport managers.
And they say, in black and white, that the carrier deceived the Court of Auditors: “I was perfectly aware that the court was not telling the truth when I said that I would resort to an autonomous tender for the supply of batteries, inducing it into error” . And it was thanks to that, they lament, that they managed to get the first contract, for the acquisition of catamarans, approved. “The assumptions on which the court made the decision to grant the visa were incorrect. If the court had been given the correct information – as it should have been – the court’s decision could have been to refuse the visa”.
“Transtejo’s behavior, with the practice of a successive set of decisions that are not only economically irrational, but also illegal, some with a high degree of gravity, affects the financial interest of the State and has a high social impact. Which is directly, and exclusively, attributable to it”, can be read in the same judgment, which discards several of the explanations provided by the carrier. Which says that when he realized that the system of leasing for the business would lose access to EU funds opted for the purchase. Transtejo admits that when it chose Astilleros Gondan to supply the ships, it was dependent on its solution for the accumulators, since any other solution would require changing the construction project of the vessels and even a new maritime certification for them, “with risks of loss of European funds”.
No other solution on the market could replace the one presented by the winner of the international public tender, “so that Transtejo was bound” to the supply by direct agreement, claims the carrier, explaining that two of the other competitors would also need to resort to the same manufacturer of accumulators, Corvus Energy – including the runner-up, Estaleiros Navais de Peniche, which tried unsuccessfully to challenge the tender in court. The carrier also justifies itself with a macroeconomic scenario marked by fluctuations in the exchange rate of the US dollar against the euro and the constant increase in the world price of lithium. The court already says that a deal of this type would make the carrier dependent on the price that the Spaniards wanted to charge during the entire useful life of the vehicles, from 16 to 22 years, since it will have to be replaced within a minimum period of seven years. .
The initial calendar predicted that the vessels would have started operating last year, with the entry into service of the first being postponed to this March. The carrier says that without the arrival of the battery packs at the shipyard “it is not possible to proceed with the completion of more ships”.