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Duke warns fast ferry not a new vessel

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Minority leader Watson Duke has warned Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley against acquiring the new ferry he (Duke) says has been sourced from Asia by the Cabinet sub-committee.

During an address to the nation last Sunday, Rowley said a new vessel to service the inter-island sea bridge would be in the country in the coming weeks. But speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Duke said the move to bring the vessel to Tobago would be met with resistance

“This Asian boat that the Prime Minister think is top secret is not a top secret. We know the boat, we know how old the boat is, we know the capacity of the boat and we also know the problems of the boat,” Duke said.

“Suffice to say now, the boat the Prime Minister is calling a new boat is not a new boat. I repeat, the boat the Prime Minister is calling a new boat is not a new boat and I will advise them do not bring that boat to Tobago, do not buy cat in bag.”

Duke said, he was confused as to why Government decided to purchase a ferry at this time instead of leasing one as was proposed.

“Before bringing the boat here they just purchased a boat. I thought they were supposed to build a boat and we were supposed to build a boat according to our specifications and our needs?” Duke said.

“Now he has forced himself into a situation where they are buying a boat and they are calling it new. Do not bring that boat here and we will reveal more as we continue with these press conferences and I have facts on the boat which I will reveal in time.”

Tobago Chamber of Commerce chairman Demi John Cruickshank meanwhile had mixed feelings about the announcement. He said he was happy with the announcement of the procurement of a fast ferry, but noted Rowley was short on specifics: “We are very hopeful that this fiasco with the boat situation, especially the passenger situation, will come to an end once and for all and we welcome the Government’s intervention,” he said.

Cruickshank said with the arrival of a fast ferry Tobago could finally return to some economic stability. He said while he was hopeful the vessel would be in the country before Carnival, more specifics on the matter were needed. He said the issue would be raised with Rowley when they meet on January 22.

“By then we should have some details in terms of one, when the vessel is going to arrive, two how soon it would be in circulation, what is the name of the vessel and we are hoping that the vessel can really and the truly do us justice,” Cruickshank said.

He said the focus should now be turned to obtaining a cargo vessel as the Cabo Star’s contract will come to an end in June.