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$48M Super-Fast ferry for seabridge

Friday, April 11 2014

TRANSPORT Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday announced Government has been able to lease a new inter-island ferry, MV Super-Fast Galicia, at a cost of $48 million for one year.

In making this announcement at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Cadiz said the Galicia is expected to arrive in the country before the Easter weekend, in time for the Tobago Jazz Festival which takes place from April 19 to 27.

Expressing confidence that this vessel will significantly improve the movement of persons and freight between Trinidad and Tobago, Cadiz declared, “All in all this is a far better deal for Tobago.”

Stating the vessel is 11 years old and is coming from Gibraltar, Cadiz said the Galicia is 160- metres long and this will require “minor modifications” which will be done at the ferry terminal at Port-of-Spain. He added there would be further ancillary costs but did not quantify what those were.

Listing the vessel’s features, Cadiz said it has restrooms for disabled persons and medical facilities. “This vessel even has a prison cell which of course will work well with the Ministry of National Security in moving prisoners back and forth from Tobago,” he noted. Checks by Newsday indicated the Galicia can transport up to 112 passengers, 110 trailers and 60 cars. The Galicia was built in February 2002 by Hijos De J Barreras SA in Spain and is next scheduled for dry docking in November 2015. Cadiz said the vessel will be leased from a Spanish firm but did not give the name of the firm.

Stating the Galicia will be able to handle all freight between Trinidad and Tobago, Cadiz said this will address concerns about a shortage of cement in Tobago. Noting that Trinidad Cement Limited has had to lease a separate vessel to transport cement to the sister isle, Cadiz stated, “The issue of shortages of cement in Tobago will no longer be the case.” Indicating the Galicia will be leased for $10 million less than the lease for the TT Warrior Spirit.

Cadiz reminded reporters that the Spirit had been operating on the domestic seabridge with only one engine for the last four months. Stating the vessel’s owners have been unable to repair the inoperable engine, Cadiz said, “ That has caused major problems for us in moving freight to and from Tobago.”

Noting the Spirit is a 32-year old vessel and was 24 years old when it was first leased in 2004, Cadiz said Government has decided it has “good cause” to break its contract with the owners of that vessel and terminate that lease.

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