Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2018 Contents Seabridge
The Inter-island Ferry Service
has been an area of concern.
There are recurring issues with
long lines of cargo trucks and frus-
trated passengers at peak periods.
Alexander said there is need
for a better organised service to
achieve greater efficiency requires
an improved structure, better
equipment and even upgrades to
the way we do business.
ferry going between Trinidad and
Tobago. We have to see it as a crit-
ical social service to the people. If
we see it like that, then we have to
start focusing on our customer ser-
vice, paying attention to the needs
of our customers.”
He explained that the ferry ser-
vice is really a “tenant on the port,”
which must be properly function-
ing so that it does not negatively
affecting the commercial aspects
of the PATT.
On the issue of whether there
should be more vessels to increase
the strength of the seabridge, Alex-
ander said a feasibility study of the
ferry operations is in the pipelines.
“It may not only be the vessel.
It may mean schedules, looking at
passenger and cargo; many things
come into play. It’s really about
streamlining all the requirements
to make that service not only ef-
fective but sustainable.”
Last month malfunctioning toi-
lets affected the operations of the
Cabo Star, the only cargo vessel
servicing the domestic route. It
was discovered that rocks, lem-
ons and clothing had been placed
in the toilets to choke the vessel’s
There have been claims the acts
were deliberate but Alexander in-
sists that facts supported by evi-
dence must be first presented.
“I come to conclusions when I
have sufficient evidence to sup-
port them. There is no evidence I
have at the moment to specifically
say there is or has been sabotage,”
“There are times, however,
when you can speculate based on
how things are happening but in
the same vein it can all be coinci-
dental,” he added.
Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, man-
ager, marketing and public re-
lations at the T&T Inter-island
Transportation Company (TTIT),
said with respect to current cargo
operations there is excess capac-
ity which must be ramped up for
the port to be financially viable.
“We have space but the vessels
are not coming as they used to.
While we make some money with
the cargo operations there is a lot
more we can make,” she admitted.
Profitability is hampered by the
post Panamax traffic which has
resulted in the loss of business to
this country. The US$5.25 billion
Panama Canal expansion which
opened for commercial purposes
about two years ago, had a signif-
icant effect on maritime traffic
across vital international lanes
that link the Pacific, Atlantic and
It created a demand for ports to
handle new Panamax ships with a
length of 1201 feet and cargo ca-
pacity up to 13,000 twenty-foot
equivalent units (TEU).
Due to the limited depth of
T&T’s harbour, post Panamax ves-
sels cannot be accommodated.
“What used to be a mainline
feeder is now a small or feeder
vessel in the scheme of things so
they have consolidated larger ves-
sels in operation but those vessels
can’t call here. We lost a Brazil
service. We have lost transship-
ment cargo as well,” Lewis-Cock-
She shares Alexander’s view
that infrastructural upgrade is es-
“Investment is so significant
that you need to justify at least
that you will get back that cargo
when you actually spend that kind
of money and that’s the challenge
for us now,” she said.
Another drawback is that the
ferry service is heavily subsidised
by the government.
“At $50 a ticket for an adult,
$100 one-way, it really doesn’t
cover sometimes the fuel we use
to make the crossing. We are not
making revenue simply because it
is heavily subsidised. I don’t think
there is anywhere in the world
you can get a one-way ticket—
three hours for $50, child $25 and
toddler zero,” Lewis-Cockburn
She said a study was done some
years ago recommended that to at
least to break even, a ferry ticket
should cost more that the return
$300 airline ticket to Tobago.
“This was about ten years ago,
so that gives you an idea of the
kind of cost, the kind of losses in
terms of revenue,” she said.
cover story BG5
Thursday, April 12, 2018
of service to T&T’
From Page 4
PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ
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