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What’s Next PATT?

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The recent resignation of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago’s (PATT) board and the announcement of a new one soon after is the latest debacle in a series of missteps by PATT.

For instance service on the interisland ferry over the last weekend was full of woes and many passengers swore they will never venture to use the service again.

Passengers on both ends of the island who were waiting on the ferry were left stranded without any communication from the port. Of course, the lack of communication fuelled speculation and rumours swirled about an emergency with the ferry on Sunday morning as it was seen leaving the Scarborough harbour with only its crew on board. Its subsequent hasty return to the port led passers -by to suggest that it returned because it was unseaworthy.

Later, the media was told that the trip was simply a dry run to determine the suitability of the vessel to take passengers, vehicle and cargo to Trinidad.

Interestingly, one of the vessels was to be placed on dry docked but was originally allowed to service the route for three days per week. But that changed without the public being properly notified.

Essentially, what this lack of communication is doing is killing domestic tourism. What worse is that it is happening at a time when islanders depend on local tourists to make up for the shortfall in foreign tourists arrivals.

Add that insult to the injury resulting from the current situation with regard to the designated cargo vessel, the Galicia, not being given a contract to continue servicing the route and a pattern of neglect and haphazard management emerges.

Already, the cargo situation is frustrating the Tobago business fraternity and also crippling the island’s economy. Businessmen have repeatedly pointed out that the lack of predictability has dealt several blows to their already weakened economic state occasioned by the downturn in the economy.

This entire situation is sad as although PATT is not ultimately responsible for the service as they follow the dictates of the political administrators governing the country they have been blamed for the services.

However, in many cases, they are at fault, especially in the area od communications. PATT has been responsible for the interisland route for decades and has undergone several challenges it is easier to blame the authority. It follows that institutional knowledge within the organisation would have prevented them, to a large extent from making several mistakes.

That being said the way the interisland route is treated speaks volumes about the kind of emphasis being placed on the importance of the service to the development of the country, particularly Tobago.

Seeing that a large portion of the island’s economy depends on the tourism industry which relies heavily on the route is it amazing that the prevailing scenario is one of chaos and that is is allowed to continue.