Tuesday 18 June, 2019

Sea bridge woes continue: MV Cabo Star malfunctions

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce said it is deeply disappointed by recent statements made by Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, regarding the termination of the contract for the delivery of the Ocean Flower 2 passenger ferry.

In a statement, the Chamber said its Tobago Division agreed that there would be a three week honeymoon period for the Cabo Star. It said, however, after some 10 days, there have been several challenges including malfunctioning air conditioning units and washroom facilities; an inoperable cafeteria, unavailable cabins for truckers and a six hour sailing time.

The Chamber is calling on the Government and the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago to bring urgent and immediate resolve to the matter for citizens as the sea bridge woes, including the period to transport people, goods and services to the sister isle via the sea bridge is posing a serious challenge to truckers.

“The time taken on the seas severely hampers the logistics re off-load and re-load times for trucks, and efforts to meet the boarding deadline for the return trip to Scarborough - or Port of Spain, as the case may be – have led to desperate and untenable practices.”

“This continued interruption of cargo and passenger services has caused irreparable damage to the Tobago hospitality sector and its downstream industries. Financial losses are accruing unabatedly along with reduced employment due to decreasing aggregate demand and economic activity.”

The T&T Chamber also questioned the procurement practices of the Government regarding contracts with the Bridgemans Service’s Group. It pointed out that in April, the Works and transport Minister indicated that the services of the MV Super-Fast Galicia were acquired under questionable practices and added that this time around, the procurement process may not have followed the best practice.

“The T&T Chamber unreservedly advocates transparent procurement practices and requests that the Government, working in tandem with the PATT, preserve the highest principles in ensuring that our country is perceived in the best light globally by potential investors. The critical nature of the services provided via the sea bridge for all of Trinidad and Tobago cannot be overstated.”

The statement added that the continued issues facing Tobagonians as a result of the inter-island transportation woes, further diminishes any confidence that the Chamber may have had in attaining a sustainable sea bridge service in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, the Chamber congratulated Port Authority Chairman Alison Lewis for opting to resign should PATT be found culpable of failing to follow proper procurement procedures.

Lewis made the statement in a newspaper report on August 9.

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