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Galicia set to sail off

Sasha Harrinanan Monday, April 17 2017

THERE are only four days left until the MV Super Fast Galicia (Galicia) ends its cargo service between Trinidad and Tobago.

However, Diane Hadad, Chairman of the Inter-Island Transport Committee of the Tobago Division of the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, says she has “no clue” about when a new vessel would begin operating on the sea bridge.

“This is the best-kept secret,” Hadad declared while speaking with Newsday yesterday. “I have no idea. There is no communication with us on whether they have found anything and whether whatever will be presented. I have no clue. I’m not in the know.” In contrast, Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Chairman of the Port Authority of TT (PATT) board Allison Lewis both expressed confidence that a decision on a replacement vessel would be made tomorrow.

Sinanan told Newsday the PATT board will meet tomorrow, at which time they will “evaluate all the information that’s been sent to them (and) finalise their decision.” Asked if there was enough time between a possible decision on Tuesday and the replacement vessel assuming duties on Saturday, Sinanan replied, “Yes, yes, definitely.” “Remember we had already put on the table the three options.

I understand there’s another option, that’s four, and there are still some other options that are coming. So Tuesday we will evaluate all of the options we have and make a decision.” Sinanan said apart from the barge which several Tobago stakeholders have denounced, the options referred to “are some other vessels that people would have sent submitted as a possible replacement. Some of them are in the region but they take a day or two to come in.” Sinanan assured that if one of these vessels was chosen, there would be no delay while they sailed from their current location into TT.

“We definitely will have vessels here by Saturday.” Meanwhile Lewis told Newsday that subsequent to the PATT board’s meeting last Thursday, “we had some additional work to do.” Lewis said the board asked PATT’s management to review the available options and to have their findings ready for presentation during tomorrow’s board meeting. Although she declined to say exactly how many options are on the table, Lewis did say, “it’s quite a few”, the barge being one of them.

“I’m very hopeful,” Lewis told Newsday, that the PATT will have a decision by tomorrow afternoon on the Galicia’s replacement.

The Galicia is a 13-year-old vessel that began principally transporting cargo between the islands in July 2014.

The previous administration paid $48 million for an initial 12-month charter. Following the expiration of that contract, the vessel has been on a month-to-month contract with the PATT for the past 18 months.

Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, Manager of Marketing and Public Relations of the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Transportation Company, said yesterday’s ferry service was “back to normal” after a couple days of delays during the annual Easter rush to get to Tobago. “Today (Sunday) the water taxi left Port-of-Spain at 7 am. We had a 9.30 am sailing and a 3 pm sailing but we decided to merge the two due to a lack of demand for seats.” The water taxi, which usually runs from PoS to San Fernando, was recruited to assist the fast ferries, the TT Express and TT Spirit, by making one roundtrip this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

While things were quiet on the port yesterday, Lewis-Cockburn expects demand to surge at the Scarborough port today and tomorrow (Tuesday), “as people try to get back in time for start of the new work week, even though they may have a ticket for Wednesday or Thursday.”

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