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Lessons from the Galicia Fiasco

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The interisland sea transportation chaos, specifically in relation to the Superfast Galicia, has certainly left an indelible mark on the minds of citizens of this country, especially Tobagonians. Wholesalers and retailers began to panic buy as the spectre of being without food and building materials loomed large before islanders.

The reality is that although information regarding the vessel’s departure to Spain in May was public knowledge, little was done to find a replacement. In the end, there was a scramble and the entire scenario turned into a spectacle.

The drama unfolded daily and began recently with the announcement by the ship’s owners- Transmed- that they had given one month's notice to government , to the sight of the coast guard vessel along with police at the Scarborough port last week, preventing the vessel from sailing to Spain, is nothing short of dramatic.

And when truckers got involved and decided to take matters into their own hands by placing a truck on the vessel’s ramp to ensure the ship sailed back to Trinidad and not directly , the scene was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie.

We are now hearing of the cost of the ship’s tenure in Trinidad, breach of contract by the ship’s owners, “quakes” and major damages to a Trinidad hotel and many other problematic scenarios.

Interesting, the solution to the end of the Galicia’s tenure, which includes a boat and a barge transporting goods between the two islands, is quite expensive and presents its own problems.

What have we learnt from all of this?

In the first place, industries must be developed to the point where they can supply the needs of Tobagonians and visitors. Cove Eco- Industrial and Business Park, once touted to be the envy of the rest of the Caribbean because of the proposed business activity to be generated there, is still in its infancy.

The bureaucracy associated with doing business in this country especially the land license needed by foreigners to invest here must be addressed as stated by the Tobago Chapter of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

But while Cove is growing the agricultural sector and culinary industry must grow as well . It’s sad to see that, after Easter celebrations every year or if the cargo vessel sailing is delayed for some time, bread cannot be found on the grocery shelves in Tobago.

Yes, we can ascribe blame to the government for the Galicia situation reaching its boiling point but what we cannot blame them for is the absence of basic commodities on the shelves.

The spectre, which was created by the possibility that the interisland route would be without a cargo vessel for a number of days, should be a thing of the past as we develop industries to feed and supply ourselves with basic life necessities .