In central Trinidad, covered in tangled vines, towering trees and green vegetation as far as the eye can see, one can find the evidence of a once thriving cocoa, coffee and citrus industry.
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Tobago Chamber meets on new ferry options today
Tobago Chamber of Commerce chairman Demi John Cruikshank says Tobago stakeholders are still against the idea of the barge operating on the sea bridge.
However, he says the chamber will reserve comment on the MV Provider until the members discuss it officially at meeting today, after which an official statement will be made.
His comment came yesterday, hours after Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan’s announcement that the cargo ship MV Provider and a barge, named the Transporter, would service the sea bridge after the Super Fast Galicia leaves Trinidad and Tobago’s shores tomorrow.
But while Cruikshank was reserving his body’s comment, Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader and Public Services Association president and Watson Duke is totally against the idea of using both vessels.
Speaking to the media in Tobago at the Scarborough Port yesterday, moments after it was announced the Provider would sail from Sunday, Duke said the specifications of the vessel were not suited for this country
“We are saying no to the MV Atlantic Provider, which is this Guyanese boat, should this boat come to Tobago or to Trinidad, the same port that they now do not want to dredge will have to dredge, because the hull of that ship is about 5.5metres, so therefore that will require the harbour in Port-of-Spain they are avoiding to dredge, they must dredge that harbour, also the harbour in Scarborough would need to be dredged,” Duke said
“That boat is an old boat, 1997. That boat has stability problems. That boat cannot carry passengers, only cargo, that boat has a chequered past, it was arrested in 2015. I could go on about that boat. We do not want that boat here.”
He added, “The capacity of goods that boat can carry is half the amount of the Galicia, where are you going with that? The barge could only carry about 80 cars, where are you going with that? No passengers?”
Duke also said the idea of the use of barge was a slap in the face of Tobagonians, as several stakeholders, including the Tobago Chamber, had rejected the idea during a meeting with Sinanan and even called on the intervention of Prime Minster Dr. Keith Rowley to mediate in the impasse.
“The barge that must be pulled by a tug boat, that will take about 10 to 14 hours to reach Tobago, which gravely diminishes the truckers and pace in which cargo moves between Trinidad and Tobago. It is something we rely on heavily, this barge doesn’t offer the ability for truckers to roll on and to roll off,” Duke said.
Duke visited the Scarborough Port yesterday for a planned protest, but the event never came off as the support he was hoping for never materialised. He instead took the opportunity to interact with stranded passengers who had been at the port for more than 12 hours. This after the scheduled 12 pm sailing of the T&T Spirit was rescheduled to 4.30pm, but never left Tobago until 7.30 pm.
Duke called on Rowley to apologise to Tobago for telling the nation to “hold strain” while the Government sorted out the inter-island ferry issue, noting sea bridge transportation should be more reliable
“We are calling on the Prime Minister to make the air bridge and the sea bridge safe and reliable again. Freedom of movement is a constitutional right to be enjoyed by all of us, even the little child among us,” he said.
Efforts to reach THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls to his cellphone.