Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2017 Contents LOYSE VINCENT
"Go to the ant ye sluggard, consider
his ways and be wise."
This is the approach being adopted by the
members of the Tobago Truckers and Trail-
ers' Association to the current situation
facing the Tobago sea-bridge.
Speaking exclusively with Tobago To-
day after stakeholders called for the head
of Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan for
failing to get an interim replacement vessel
for the Super Fast Galicia, president of the
association Horace Meade said members are
not satisfied with the Government's solu-
tion to what's being called the "Trinidad to
Tobago transport crisis."
He said they had already put an interim
plan in place for when the Galicia leaves
on April 21, after the charter gave the Port
Authority of T&T a few days' grace on its
departure from the sea bridge.
"We have decided to continue with our
plan to bring as much material as we can
from the National Quarry in Trinidad before
the Galicia leaves because we have to pro-
tect our livelihoods," he said.
Last week, Meade was among a group of
Tobago-based business stakeholders who
openly rejected the Government's plan to
use a barge to transport goods between
Trinidad and Tobago after the Super Fast
Galacia, the country's only cargo vessel,
leaves the-inter island route.
Meade said then that he feared the con-
struction sector on the island was in jeop-
ardy as the Studley Park Quarry was not in
operation since December 2016 and the only
means of getting building material was to
transport it from Trinidad to Tobago.
However, operations at the Studley Park
Quarry resumed a few days later on April 5.
With the resumption of operations at the
quarry, Secretary in the Division of Infra-
structure, Environment and the Quarry
Kwesi DesVignes said material was being
stockpiled and public distribution had re-
Tobago Today was however informed
that this distribution is being "rationed," as
every truck driver will be given two loads
each, twice per week due to the limited
amount of material available. This is being
attributed to the period of inactivity.
On Monday, Meade said while he is opti-
mistic he was concerned about operations
at Studley Park.
"Even before the quarry stopped produc-
ing in December last year they had some
issues with equipment, the workers had
complaints about outstanding overtime
payments since 2013 and based on feedback,
some received their money while others still
have payments outstanding."
He said the Government's solution to have
two Coast Guard vessels replace the Galacia
does not cater to the construction sector
should any issues arise at the quarry.
"As far as we were made to understand,
the Coast Guard vessels cannot transport
heavy vehicles -- those vessels were de-
signed for rescue and relief efforts. What
about us? What's being put in place for us?"
He said this was why his members were
moving ahead with plans to stockpile mate-
rial in Tobago until the Galicia stops servic-
ing the route.
"As we speak it's very costly to stockpile.
We have to pay for freight, fuel, the driver.
Just to paint a picture of what this situation
is costing us, it takes as much as $1500 per
trip and these are all costs we have to bear if
we want to survive."
Meade stressed that his organisation was
not satisfied with the Government's solu-
tion to the transport problem, especially
after announcing that they plan to invest in
the construction sector to stimulate eco-
tobagotoday.co.tt April 12 - 2017
...Stockpiling material to cater for crunch time
Diane Hadad, right, former president of the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry
and Commerce, makes a point during the stakeholder discussions. To her left is the current
Tobago Division president, Demi-John Cruickshank.
PHOTO: DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION
over ferry fiasco
Galicia now staying until April 21
Tobago stakeholders got a
small reprieve yesterday, with
the announcement that the Su-
per Fast Galicia will now leave
the inter-island service on
April 21 instead of April 18. But
stakeholders are still unhappy
with the alternatives presented
to them in the short term to re-
place the vessel when it leaves.
Works and Transport Minis-
ter Rohan Sinanan told the T&T
Guardian "as of now there are
three options on the table - the
Warrior Spirit, the T&T Express
and a barge which came to the is-
land two weeks ago. The barge is
huge and has walls so it is not the
open barge where salt water will
spoil the goods."
The options were conveyed to
Tobago stakeholders yesterday and
while Sinanan admitted that the
stakeholders "were not happy,"
he said "the Government has a
responsibility to ensure that cargo
reaches Tobago." He said while
they could not "force them to put
their cargo on any vessel, we con-
tinue to pursue other options."
Looking at the alternatives, he
said the Warrior Spirit can carry
"perishable items and light car-
go up top seven thousand kilo-
grammes, all the perishable items
and three tonne trucks."
The barge, he said, "came from
Houston bringing cranes and
heavy duty trucks." He said it can
carry cars and trucks loaded with
heavy material, including cement,
sand and building material." He
said the barge has walls and goods
will not be affected by salt water
Sinanan said the option for
the Galicia to stay in service fell
through as the vessel has already
been booked elsewhere.
The local agent for the Galicia,
John Powell, has submitted four
vessel options to replace the Gali-
cia to Sinanan and the Port Au-
thority of T&T. But Sinanan said
the choice of vessel will now be
left to the new board, which will be
installed later today "and they will
look at the vessels, as well as other
offers because all of a sudden a lot
of vessels are being offered for the
In addition, he said tenders
which went out on April 1 for a new
vessel will close on April 24, the
evaluation will take about a week
and then it could take a month to
get the vessel. He said the hope is
that the vessel would get here by
the end of May for three years.
"Going forward in the short
term, what it calls for is some sac-
rifice, but when the barge came up
the stakeholders said they don't
want a barge. But I am acting on
the advice of the technocrats at the
port. We feel comfortable the three
options will give us time between
April 22 and the end of May," Si-
Meanwhile, Sinanan and port
officials failed to deliver on their
promise to have the T&T Express
back in service yesterday.
Communications Manager of
the Inter-Island Ferry Service, Vil-
ma Lewis Cockburn, could shed no
light on the reason why.
To pick up the slack, the Warrior
Spirit was scheduled to sail at 11
am and again at 11 pm utilising the
crew from the T&T Express.
The inter-island cargo vessel, Super Fast Galicia.
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