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Stakeholders upset as sea bridge woes continue

Time to take a stand Tobago

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Members of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce management committee, from left, Horrace Ameade, Chris James, Demi John Cruickshank, Dianne Hadaad and David Wong, during the press conference earlier this week.

The Tobago Chamber of Commerce is calling on Tobagonians to “take a stand,” as there appears to be no resolution in sight for the island’s inter-island transport troubles.

The chamber’s management committee issued the call during a press conference at its Milford Road, Scarborough office on Tuesday, where the various inter-island transport issues which continue to plague the island were raised.

Inter-island Transport Committee Dianne Hadad said Tobago’s business sector had gone through 14 months of continual losses.

“We were promised that the fast ferry issue would be resolved in a few months. The TT Spirit is down (dry dock) in Chaguaramas, the Express is limping, it takes almost five hours to do a one-way journey. We were promised a fast ferry by July of this year, we are now heading to December and there is no fast ferry.More importantly, there’s no communication with us.”

According to Hadad, the latest attempt to secure a new fast ferry has since been “cancelled.”

This is in contradiction to a statement made in the Tobago House of Assembly Chamber during the 9th Sitting of the House, when Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said 11 vessels were identified which the evaluation committee deliberated on from October 17-27. He said then that committee requested more information from the Tobago House of Assembly which was provided.

Hadad said the sea bridge is approaching a critical stage yet “The Ocean Flower II is still in the ocean flowering around.”

Members of the Inter-island Transport Committee are also calling for the only cargo vessel, the Cabo Star, to be pulled from the route. Entrepreneur David Wong said he can’t allow his employees to use the vessel.

“There is no air condition, there are health and safety issues with regards to rats and whatever else they found. The engine with oil containers and flash band and the actual operation and functioning of the vessel in terms of the time that it is able to do the run.”

Inter-island Truckers and Trailers’ Association president Horace Ameade supported this statement.

“For the past 21 days there’s been no central AC for the passengers. I don’t know how the staff is making it, sometimes they are outside in the open with a chair and a box to register passengers, at this time I think OSHA should come in and do something.”

Wong appealed to the Minister of Transport to “get rid,” of the Cabo Star as soon as possible and not keep the vessel for the 24-month contractual period.