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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tobago-born prime minister Dr Keith Christopher Rowley’s ferry ride to Tobago last Sunday struck responsive chords with his political party supporters and opponents. The former group applauded the act while it drew the chagrin of the latter.

But for whatever the trip was worth at least it gave the PM the opportunity to gain experience firsthand of some of the problems on the sea bridge.

Clearly, did not have to stand in line to purchase the ticket and meet rude counter clerks or wait in line for his vehicle to be shrugged aside for port employee friends and family to be spirited to the front of the line or deal with rude passengers placing their bags on seats to secure a place for sleeping.

However, his ride showed that he was prepared to go the extra mile.

The prime minister realizes the significance of the Seabridge to Tobagonians and has met with the Tobago Chamber Industry’s Board and other important stakeholders to get their input on the way forward.

Of course, like everything else, things have not gone as planned and there seems no end to the current situation.

The present administration of the current administration of the Tobago House of Assembly has also recognised the importance of the sea bridge.

In a recent op-ed titled “The Economic and Social Value of the Sea bridge,” they noted that: “Delays in shipment or the inability to ship goods across the sea bridge means direct financial losses for businesses, which also has a wider economic effect even if service is interrupted for a few days.”

The article added: “It can also hamper events, construction schedules, road repairs, and yes, tourism.”

Of course, the latter area-tourism sector- is taking a heavy beating from all of this. What's worse is that the situation is happening at a time when the sector is experiencing low occupancy rates.

Like the government, the members of the Minority Council led by Watson Duke are also making efforts to highlight the plight of Tobagonians as they relate to the sea bridge.

To this end, Duke has led several marches.

And while all efforts are big made to resolve the situation what has not been clearly stated is the loss in gains, from any strides, the recently elected THA administration may have made.

Perhaps, the greatest casualty of all of this is the erosion of confidence in the current administration and strides made by the current Tobago administration will be negated.

And in spite of the work done by the Kelvin Charles' administration, his administration will be judged by what it did during the interisland sea bridge crisis.