Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 1st 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt May 31 - 2017
Port says hands tied on ferry woes
The Tobago business community appears
to be going around in circles in a desperate
attempt to deal with the current inter-island
transport crisis, says the Tobago Chamber
This was the view expressed during a press
conference hosted by the chamber last Fri-
day, after what was described as a "heated
meeting" with the board of the Port Author-
ity of T&T yielded no positive results.
For the last few months, business owners
have been calling on the Government to
source a suitable cargo vessel to service the
inter-island route after the Super Fast Gali-
cia left the sea bridge after April 21.
The Government's contracting of the MV
Provider and Trinity Transporter barge to
transport goods between the two islands has
not sat well with either the business com-
munity or truckers, as the slow turnaround
time of the replacements have resulted in
thousands of dollars in losses. There are also
complaints of damage to cargo on the barge.
During the press conference, Tobago
Chamber chairman Demi John Cruickshank
said the future of the sea bridge now lays
in Government's hands.
"The Port board would have done their
part in terms of recommending three cabi-
net notes so everything to really and truly
fix this problem is in the hands of the Cab-
inet," he said.
Cruickshank said business people are cur-
rently experiencing 30-40 per cent in loss-
es because they have to give refunds.
It is a serious situation," he said.
He spoke briefly about the recommenda-
tions put forward by the board.
"Although they did not provide any specif-
ics, they are suggesting that we be given one
cargo vessel to replace the two boats being
used now and a fast ferry to replace the exist-
ing fast ferry because we know that one fast
ferry is due to go on dry dock in June."
He said he hopes Cabinet can sign off on
the notes in the shortest possible time to
allow the tourism sector to capitalise on the
upcoming long weekends.
Chamber member David Wong presented
the dilemma in numbers. "The situation has
disintegrated from moving 1,800 seats plus
300 trucks daily to no people, no cars and
40 trucks per day," he said.
The chamber and other stakeholders met
with the Port board after failing to get the
matter resolved following several meetings
with Minister of Works and Transport Rohan
Sinanan, Meanwhile, chairman of the Toba-
go Truckers and Trailers Association, Horace
Ameade, described the current state of affairs
"We demand that they call an emergency
Cabinet meeting and deal with the boat issue
and Tobago. We are demanding ...the Prime
Minister call an emergency Cabinet meeting
and deal with this boat issue. You are play-
ing with people's lives."
The visibly upset Ameade said he was
frustrated because the members of the Port
Authority board said they had done their
part by making recommendations and they
can't instruct the Prime Minister.
Ameade, who led a group of protesters at
the front of the Tobago chamber's office,
said the truckers are willing to continue
protesting until the matter is resolved.
Tobago stakeholders want emergency Cabinet session as
Rowley apologises for sea bridge woes
The Port Authority of T&T's fast fer-
ries---the T&T Express and T&T Spirit---have
suffered "human interference" and data on
their maintenance have also been removed
among other problems, Prime Minister Dr
Keith Rowley has said.
"Government has to make some significant
interventions at the Port Authority and
Government will not hesitate to make those
interventions," Rowley warned at a media
briefing at Parliament last Friday.
He said he knew a little more about the
situation taking place with the port's prob-
lems than the public did. He apologised to
Tobagonians for the ferry service problems,
acknowledging it is very troublesome and
But he said there are serious problems at
the port and Government is dealing with
those. "By the time I return (from my Chile
trip) I'll say more on that," he added.
Rowley said as long as he was PM he
wouldn't allow people to continue having
their way and "bleeding" the Treasury, as
they had for too long.
Government is ordering construction of
a new vessel and two fast ferries. This will
take several years. In the interim, a short-
term leased vessel will serve Tobago as the
T&T Spirit and T&T Express go on dry dock
He said both operated without mainte-
nance for a long time, were damaged and
broke down frequently. Rowley said US$7
million was paid annually for 11 years for
Since they have no maintenance data, he
said Government has sent to the Australian
manufacturers to advise the port how to
proceed. After a long period of dry docking,
he said they should give a fair amount of
service with maintenance.
Rowley's comments on the ferries came
even as the planned return of the T&T Spir-
it to the sea bridge has been delayed. The
Port Authority said the vessel will "remain
out of service to complete works to its third
The Spirit was originally scheduled to
return to service on Monday, but with the
announcement it means that the T&T
Express will continue to be the sole vessel
operating the inter-island route. The water
taxi will be added to the service next Tues-
day the Indian Arrival Day Holiday.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan
Sinanan told the T&T Guardian yesterday
that both the Express and the Spirit "need
to be taken out of service for more than a
few weeks, they need a proper overhaul."
A discussion he said had already been
held with the Manufacturer INCAT, and
"they are sending someone to help us, they
will be here next week."
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