Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2017 Contents A4 news
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tobago ferry woes raised in Senate
Works and Transport Minister
Rohan Sinanan says Government
intended to "take immediate
steps to thoroughly overhaul
the two Incat fast ferries, so that
they can be restored to full func-
tionality and provide the service
which they were doing prior to
This as for yet another day there
were delays in the sailing from Scar-
borough of the T&T Express, the ves-
sel which should have sailed at 6.30
am yesterday but was rescheduled to
midday and actually left Scarborough
just after 1 pm.
Responding to similar questions
from Opposition Senator Wade Mark
and Independent Senator Paul Rich-
ards in the Senate yesterday, Sinanan
said arrangements are currently be-
ing made to "get a wave-piercing
catamaran fast ferry, similar to the
Incat vessels, on a full charter basis."
He said the process had started and
he expected that "a vessel would be
here before the vessel goes on dry
dock in June."
Sinanan said in procuring the ves-
sel, "the procurement system must
be in keeping with good procurement
practices." To this end, he said "an
ad would be out in the newspaper by
Questioned on whether the use of
the water taxis to fill the gap would
affect the vessels' North-South run,
Sinanan responded: "I did say that
the vessel will be afforded to the port
as and when available so there will be
no disruption in the service from San
Fernando to Port-of-Spain."
Asked by Mark whether the Gov-
ernment was prepared to compensate
passengers who are inconvenienced
as a result of the breakdown of the
ferries, he said the Port Authority had
been working with the passengers.
"Some have been given tickets on
the air bridge and they are making
arrangements once passengers are
inconvenienced they are put in guest
houses," Sinanan said.
Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge
asked how much this had cost the
Government so far. Sinanan said the
cost was "very minimal, it happened
one night and it was a very nominal
But truckers have a different story.
They told the T&T Guardian yester-
day that it has been costing them in
the region of $2,000 a week when
they have to overnight in Trinidad.
President of the Inter-Island
Trailers and Truckers' Association
Horace Amede said "what used to
take one day now taking five days,
so at the end of the week you work
for nothing, to overnight in Trinidad
is costing over three hundred dollars
for room and food so we losing over
two thousand dollars a week. That is
more than you charge for the trip."
Amede said some businesses in
Trinidad were now refusing to send
goods to Tobago because of what is
"There is a problem with security
so you have to make sure your goods
are secure," he said.
Describing the situation as "very
very bad," Amede said drivers who
have been unable to get to and from
Trinidad because of the ferry prob-
lems are "jostling with everyone
else at the airport so you have your
goods in Tobago or Trinidad and you
"When a man works hard he wants
a shower and to return to his home,
but we cannot do it at this point in
time. When people can't get food to
eat or bathe and change their clothes
they will get angry and tempers will
Another trucker, Raymond Holder,
said he put his truck on the Atlantic
Provider and rushed to the airport to
get a flight to Tobago to ensure he was
there when his truck arrived.
He bears the cost for his ticket and
if he can't make it on time he has to
pay someone to take his truck off the
Provider and secure it, which is an
additional cost of $300 for security.
Holder said truckers have little
choice "because if we can't make it
on time we have to ensure we have
someone we can trust on standby
to take the truck off and to secure
it. They obviously won't do that for
The airport, he said, is another
"We get here and we on standby
because we have no letter from the
port saying our trucks are on the Pro-
vider and we need to get to Tobago
urgently, so we are treated like any
other passenger on stand by."
In the Senate, Sinanan said he was
"not aware that the relationship be-
tween the people of Trinidad and the
people of Tobago had been damaged
as a result of the problems."
Responding to a question from
Mark, he said: "I am aware that both
the people of Trinidad and Tobago
are being severely inconvenienced.
The Government is not happy with
The Port Authority of T&T is
seeking foreign expertise to as-
sist them with the almost daily
mechanical problems affecting
the smooth sailing of the T&T
Express and the now grounded
T&T Spirit, which finally sailed
back to Trinidad from Scarbor-
ough yesterday to go into dry
dock for repairs.
Chairman of the board Allison
Lewis told the T&T Guardian yes-
terday that they had reached out to
manufacturer of the vessels, Incat
of Australia, to get someone here to
assist in repairing the vessels.
Lewis' comment came even as
Works and Transport Minister Ro-
han Sinanan said he found it curious
the vessels have been experiencing
mechanical problems so frequently,
although he stopped short of saying
he believed there is sabotage.
Lewis refused to comment on the
minister's statement, saying: "We are
investigating every incident report as
to the causes, when it happened and
the corrective action taken."
Asked whether part of the prob-
lems were the result of Bay Ferries
not leaving the necessary data and
documentation to assist with the
repair of the vessels when they left,
Lewis refused comment.
But she admitted there is currently
"a problem with maintenance capa-
bility at the port."
She said she had asked for "inci-
dent reports and we are currently
looking for maintenance capability."
Asked whether this involved for-
eign expertise, she said: "We are
looking at getting somebody from
the manufacturing company to look
at the requirements and we will take
it from there."
She said a request had been sent
and they were awaiting word on how
soon they will be here.
Lewis yesterday met with her
board and port management as she
sought ways to address the ongoing
crisis on the inter-island passenger
and cargo services, which have been
almost constant since the departure
of the Super Fast Galicia on April 21.
"We are looking at getting addi-
tional passenger capacity, we are
looking at options and we will make
the necessary recommendations,"
Lewis said the media reports on
the issues with the passenger ferries
had resulted in unsolicited proposals
coming in from companies and they
would go through these, adding the
board is optimistic a recommenda-
tion for a vessel would be made to
Sinanan by early today so it can be
taken to Cabinet.
On Monday, the T&T Express
was forced to return minutes after
leaving for Scarborough after it de-
veloped problems at sea.
The vessel was pulled in for repairs
and eventually left Port-of-Spain at
around 9.05 pm.
Lewis said although the water taxi
was brought into service to fill the
gap while the Express was being re-
paired, "of the 277 people who were
at the port only 77 chose to use the
water taxi because the others wanted
to go with their vehicles."
Those 200 passengers left on the
Express when it eventually sailed.
The issue of people travelling with
their vehicle was the reason Lewis
said chartering a Caribbean Airlines
flight to deal with the problem was
not a solution.
One of the reasons the Galicia
was deemed "unsuitable" for the
inter-island route was because it
could not berth at the port in the
designated area at Queen's Wharf,
But more than a month after it left
the replacement vessel, the Atlantic
Provider, has also not been able to
berth at Queen's Wharf either and is
being berthed at the very same place
used by the Galicia outside the Hyatt
That is because the designat-
ed area for berthing needs to be
Lewis admitted that dredging of
the area for berthing is a priority
and a recommendation to this ef-
fect was actually approved under
the last board chaired by Christine
Sahadeo and money was approved
for the exercise.
But Lewis could shed no light on
why it was not done although the
agent for the Super Fast Galicia, In-
ter Continental Shipping Ltd, had
offered to enter into a Private-Public
sector Partnership with the Govern-
ment to conduct the work.
Lewis said: "I could only talk
about what I plan to do and it will
be done or I won't be here."
With regard to the cargo service,
Lewis said while the La Caracola had
been short-listed, "no final decision
had been taken on the vessel." (RS)
The Chaguaramas Develop-
ment Authority has retained
the firm of Gloria Eastman
and Associates to conduct
a human resource audit of
tits operations. And while
the audit will be shared with
the representing trade un-
ion, Government could give
no indication on whether it
will mean staff cuts at the
Responding to a question in
the Senate by Opposition Sen-
ator Wade Mark yesterday, En-
ergy Minister Franklyn Khan,
responding on behalf of planning
Minister Camille Robinson-Re-
gis, said the team will review doc-
uments to assist in the audit in
keeping with the CDA's strategic
plan and will "conduct critical
analysis of the present work-
force at the CDA, vis-à-vis the
core objectives and a gap analysis
of the core objectives."
The audit team will also "pro-
duce a statement of the gaps
identified and investigate the is-
sue of staff recruitment," he said.
Khan said the audit team had
been mandated to produce and
submit a final report with a rec-
ommended work structure and
design a cost effective structure
to achieve the CDA mandate.
The audit began on April 9th
and will be completed in eight
weeks. Khan said the results will
be shared with the union repre-
senting the CDA workers.
Asked about the cost of the
audit, Khan said he was not in a
position to say.
Mark asked whether the CDA
workforce would be "ultimately
Khan replied: "The former
prime minister Patrick Man-
ning had a saying hurry dog eat
raw meat, let's not jump ahead.
We are conducting a manpower
audit, it will analyse the structure
of the company."
Once the gaps are identified,
Khan said "they will be closed to
have an efficiently run operation
in keeping with the mandate of
the CDA Act."
While the report will be shared
with the union, Khan said "not
every report and study that a
company undertakes need to
come to Parliament."
He told Mark the "CDA can be
summoned by one of the JSCs and
matters could be raised there."
The CDA workers have three
representing unions, the Public
Services Association (PSA), the
National Union of Government
and Federated Workers Union
(NUGFW) and the Estate Police
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan during yesterday's sitting of
the Senate at the Parliament building in Port-of-Spain.
PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
Port to give minister ferry options today
Sinanan eyes fast catamaran CDA to
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