Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt May 24 - 2017
Sorry's not good enough
Stakeholders representing several organ-
isations are expressing disappointment with
the manner in which Tobago House of
Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles
has dealt with the island's transportation
crisis. Several of these individuals last week
publicly criticised Charles for what has
been called "his silence" in treating with
the steady decline of the country's inter-is-
land transportation system.
Charles had addressed the inter-island
ferry service in the latter part of a ten-min-
ute televised address last Wednesday.
"Tobago is being plagued by an unpre-
dictable sea transport situation which has
unfortunately affected residents on the island.
This was marked mostly by the transition-
ing of the previous ferry arrangement and
the resulting temporary arrangement,"
Charles said during the address, noting the
authorities are working on a solution.
"The Assembly deeply apologises on behalf
of the authorities for the inconveniences and
hardships that we have all suffered and is
committed to being a part of finding an early
Since the departure of the Super Fast
Galicia from the sea bridge on April 21 there
have been no end of woes for the travelling
public, with the latest situation on Monday,
in which passengers and port authority offi-
cials were engaged in a stand-off after the
T&T Express shut down en route to Tobago,
highlighting the continuing woes.
Charles' comments were publicly criticised
in several quarters.
THA Minority Leader Watson Duke said
Charles had confirmed what all of Tobago
knew about him during his speech.
"He said that he was waiting on persons
in the background in Trinidad to provide
solutions to the issue. We knew that he
can't make decisions, we knew that he was
being controlled by the puppeteers in Trin-
idad, but the time for that must come to an
Duke called on the Chief Secretary to call
elections now, as what the island requires
in a Chief Secretary is "a man that is Chief
among all men." He said that man should
be able to stand up and speak on behalf of
Similar sentiments were expresses by
chairman of the Inter-island Ferry Commis-
sion in Tobago Diane Hadad. She said the
deafening silence of Tobago's leadership was
also questionable, as "at this stage we are
hearing nothing as we drown."
"The Chamber is disappointed by Mr
Charles' role in this. I'm not sure why. In
our meetings with him when he came into
office, he did assure us that he was a no-non-
sense person. And he did assure us that
Tobago and Tobagonians would have bene-
fitted in the best way under his leadership,
I dont see this as an example of no-nonsense,"
Hadad said during a press conference at the
chambers' office at Old Milford Road.
Businessman and member of the Tobago
Chamber David Wong also expressed his
frustration with how the matter was handled.
"Next month I have quarterlies due, I
wonder if I can photocopy some of those
apologies and give them to Mr Imbert down
at the BIR?" Wong said.
"I wonder if they would take it, because
we were given those apologies last night and
in the papers today and we taking it. I won-
der if the Bankers' Association, when they
calling on interest payments and so forth, I
wonder if the higher purchase companies,
if my employees could take the photocopies
of these apologies and pay these people?"
Wong said the current state of inter-island
travel is the worse he has experienced in
recent times and something must be done
to prevent further losses to the business
community, given the potential damaging
effects of this, such as unemployment.
Licks for Charles over sea bridge woes
Stakeholders angry as crisis worsens
Losses continue to mount as a result of
the inter-island transport "crisis" and the
Tobago Chamber of Commerce has taken
a decision to meet with the Port Authori-
ty of T&T board to find a solution to the
Members of the chamber are saying that
operations have disintegrated from moving
1800 seats plus 300 trucks daily, to no peo-
ple, no cars and forty trucks per day. Mem-
bers of the chamber hosted a press confer-
ence at their office at Old Milford Road last
week, where President Demi John Cruick-
shank said a meeting was critical as the
current regime was bent on doing things its
own way instead "of doing what's best for
"We have requested an urgent meeting
with the chairman of the board of the Port
Authority and we are hoping we can sit
around a table as we did in the past and
discuss how we can get things done."
President of the Tobago Hotel and Tour-
ism Association Chris James said both the
air and sea transportation crisis was doing
further damage to the island's tourism sec-
"We are very concerned about the July/
August vacation period. Normally, bookings
would have already started coming in from
the domestic sector and they are not so we
are very concerned," James said.
"The situation is really very unfair to us,
because in our case it's not just the sea bridge,
it's also the air bridge where we have persons
waiting for up to 14 hours to get a flight to
Tobago. We are even having bookings can-
James said the Tobago tourism sector has
been on a steady decline for the last ten
years with occupancy rates at 34 per cent
while the rest of the Caribbean enjoys a 64
per cent occupancy rate. He said some hote-
liers have even dropped their nightly rates
to US$154 per night while the average rate
for the region is US$228 per night. He said
something must be done to save the sector.
It was highlighted that the management
of Caribbean Airlines has been taking steps
to improve the level of service offered, but
also noted that these improvements have
been overshadowed by the unreliability of
the airline's carriers.
President of the Tobago Truckers and
Trailers Association, Horace Ameade, said
his organisation was mourning the death of
the inter-island transport service.
"Now is not the time to play games with
people's livelihoods. We have drivers who
can't get back to Tobago at a rate of $300
per night plus meals," he said.
"Vendors are feeling it the worst. Some
of them went down for goods and no boat
to return with goods. Items spent days in
the sun and by the time it gets to Tobago
all the greens turn yellow and that happened
twice this week."
He said if these kind of losses continue
to be incurred a number of business will
either have to be shut down or begin to send
Ameade said his organisation met with
the minister on several occasions and both
parties agreed to notify the members of the
association when a suitable vessel was iden-
tified. However, he said they were only made
aware of the additional vessel proposed for
the route via the media. He said the Toba-
go business owners and travellers are fed up
of the disrespect being showed to them.
- Loyse Vincent
Businessman David Wong.
Chairman of the Inter-island ferry Commission in Tobago, Diane Hadad.
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