Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 17th 2018 Contents A8 news
Saturday, February 17, 2018
T&T Express still to be cleared to sail
ROSEMARIE SANT and
The T&T Express has received four
of the five class certificates required
to resume operations on the sea-
Inspections were being done yes-
terday to determine whether the
vessel is up to par for passenger
safety but up to presstime there was
no confirmation on whether sailing
could resume this weekend.
A statement from the Port said
yesterday surveys carried out on the
T&T Express have been completed
and the Authority is awaiting the re-
sults from DNV. It added that all op-
erations “will be certified” and the
vessel will be returned service by 2
pm today. Another statement is ex-
pected at 10 am today on the issue.
However, Works and Transport
Minister Rohan Sinanan said in Par-
liament yesterday that T&T Express
is expected to be back on the Tobago
ferry service today.
Replying to queries from UNC MP
Roodal Moonilal, the Minister said
the Port Authority spent $500,000
to fly ferry passengers via CAL to
Tobago recently when the vessel
was out of service due to rough seas
bulletin as well as the fact the vessel’s
class certification was under review.
He said passengers with con-
firmed bookings were flown to To-
bago in the interest of the tourism
Sinanan said it was actually
cheaper to fly them over since the
cost of vessel’s fuel surpasses the
cost of the tickets.
“The Port was saved by the air-
bridge,” he said.
The passenger ferry was taken out
of service last week after it failed to
get the renewal of its class certificate
by international certification body
Last December, the Port Author-
ity of T&T (PATT) got an extension of
its temporary class certificates and
a list of work to be done before the
extension expired at midnight on
February 7. However, the majority
of the work was not done and there
was concern that passengers’ lives
would be at risk, so a further exten-
sion was denied.
PATT sources said over the past
few days some of the issues identi-
fied were addressed. Once the class
certificates are issued and the mar-
itime director gives the all clear the
vessel will return to service.
Stakeholders in Tobago com-
plained that they have not been
hearing from the PATT about the
status of any of the vessels on the
Tobago Chamber chairman Demi
John Cruickshank said: “With Easter
coming shortly we need a serious
statement about the date of the re-
turn of the T&T Spirit and we need
to know what is happening with the
T&T Express and what is the date the
Galleons Passage will arrive.”
Cruickshank was critical of the
PATT, saying it had “caused a whole
island’s economy to go into a tailspin
because of the inefficiencies. Some-
body needs to answer why after a
whole year the economy of Tobago
has collapsed because of one agency
He added: “Domestic tourism has
collapsed because of the Port ineffi-
ciency.” CAL provided 156 flights and
11,640 seats for ferry passengers.
Cruickshank said CAL “jumping
in at the last minute” had saved the
day. “I don’t think any other airline
would have done what CAL did at
such short notice,” he said.
The Galleons Passage, the US$17.4
million vessel purchased for the sea-
bridge, is still docked in China await-
ing permits for its trans-Pacific ocean
voyage to T&T, Finance Minister said
via his Twitter account this week.
It will cost taxpayers an additional
US$800,000 to sail the vessel to T&T.
Imbert sought to allay concerns
that further work is required before
the Galleons Passage sails.
“The vessel is in good and ser-
viceable condition, with all equip-
ment, machinery and engines fully
functional,” he said and reiterated
that its departure was delayed by
the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Galleons Passage was originally
commissioned by the Venezuelan
Government and Gran Cacique in
Venezuela for use on the Puerto La
Cruz to Punta de Piedras route in
Margarita, in sheltered waters.
Imbert has never named the bro-
ker which sourced the vessel but
checks indicate that the Catamaran
is on the site of International Broking
Services (IBS), the same broker from
which the water taxis HC Katia, HC
Milancia and HC Olivia were pur-
The T&T Express docked at the Port-of-Spain Ferry Terminal on Thursday.
PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ
for ferry arrival
The passenger ferry, the Galleons Passage, hasn’t
left China for T&T yet as it is awaiting clearance
after the Chinese New Year observances, Prime
Minister Keith Rowley said yesterday.
Replying to UNC MP Rudy Indarsingh, he
said the celebrations affected the public service
there and while a timetable was set for departure
(February 9), it was impacted by the Chinese New
Year. Over the coming days the timetable will be
revised, he said.
He added Government hired a commercial
agent to put a crew in place but when they were
ready to move they were impacted by “circum-
stances beyond their control.”
The Government has paid $2.4m in medical bills
for Public Administration Minister Maxie Cuffie’s
health costs, Prime Minister Keith Rowley told
He was responding to questions from UNC
MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh.
Rowley said Government paid bills on
life-saving aspects of Cuffie’s treatment fol-
lowing his recent medical illness. He suffered a
stroke last September. Rowley said Government
paid St Clair Medical Centre $980,263. When he
needed to go overseas for further attention,
US$46,000 (TT$308,200) was paid for an air
ambulance and US$171,000 (TT$1,145,700)
for other costs. He said Cuffie’s family says he’d
made considerable progress and is likely to
return in the “not too distant future”. Rowley
said Cuffie’s ability to return to his job will be
Central Bank spent a total of US$1.8 billion
(TT$12B) last year to buffer the T&T to US ex-
change rate, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told
the Opposition in Parliament yesterday.
Sums ranged from a low of US$105m
(TT$703) last December to a high of US$175m
(TT$1.2B) last March and February.
He said a total of US$1.2B (TT$8B) was used
to pay off credit card debts in 2017. This ranged
from a low of US$70.5m (TT$472m) in February
2017 to a high of US$120m ( TT$804m) in Sep-
tember. — Gail Alexander
US$1.8b to buffer
Forex costs in 2017
Links Archive February 16th 2018 February 18th 2018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page