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Truckers force return PoS trip

Published: 
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Galicia crew tries journey to Spain from Tobago
Boarding resumes on the Super Fast Galicia at the Scarborough Port, Tobago. PHOTO: CASANDRA THOMPSON FORBES

Truckers at the Scarborough Port yesterday forced the Port Authority of T&T to order the crew of the Super Fast Galicia to make a return trip to Trinidad last night, after the vessel’s crew indicated they were instead heading to Spain directly from Tobago.

The truckers became incensed when, after being made to wait for approximately 24 hours for the Galicia to get to Tobago, the local crew was ordered off the boat around 10 am because its foreign crew started preparations to sail to Spain, indicating their contract had expired and they had purchased their own fuel for the European journey.

But the enraged truckers stormed the vessel’s ramp to prevent it from leaving. The melee lasted for over one hour before the truckers started boarding the boat without authorisation. The action caused a traffic pile up in Scarborough and delayed the afternoon sailing of the T&T Express.

The crew eventually relented and agreed to take the truckers, most of whom were from Trinidad, back to Port-of-Spain. Heavily armed police officers also visited the port, but no one was arrested.

A T&T Coast Guard vessel, the TTS Carlibay, also arrived to escort the Galicia back to Trinidad. An officer also went aboard the Galicia to ensure the passengers and cargo arrived safely, as many feared the vessel might still divert to Spain on its way back.

Speaking to the media at the Scarborough Port, Trucker and Traders Association president Horace Amede said the truckers were ready to take legal action if the Galicia had sailed without their trucks.

“They had no other choice than to take the vehicles back to Trinidad, because this was the original arrangement, that the trucks would go back to Trinidad. If not we were going to take the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago to court, because we have valid tickets for all these vehicles here to go back to Trinidad, so there was going to be a cost for staying in Tobago and every day that those vessels stayed in Tobago, additional cost was going to be added.”

He also reiterated that no trucks will be placed on any barge to transport goods between the islands.

“We don’t want to hear anything about any barge, that comes like a bad word right now,” Amede said.

“That barge situation is a total disrespect to us, because when you travel on the Galicia you are 30 feet from the water and you still get water spray, so how could you put your vehicle on a barge that there’s an eight-feet wall, so imagine what will happen to our vehicles.”

Amede also warned Tobagonians of a possible food shortage if their needs are not met.

The MV Atlantic Provider and the MV Transporter, which will be used in the interim until Government finds a replacement for the Galicia, are scheduled to service the sea bridge from tomorrow.

Chaos on last sailing

Approximately 13 local Galicia crew members were temporarily put off the vessel at the Scarborough Port by its captain yesterday.

A worker who requested anonymity said the crew was ordered to leave the vessel when it docked in Tobago around 10 am.

The Galicia made a round trip yesterday, both of which were delayed by several hours.

The first sailing departed Trinidad at 4.35 am, while the final sailing from Tobago to the Port-of-Spain Ferry Terminal was expected to depart at 8 pm.

The Tobago incident occurred after the Galicia’s trip from Trinidad was also delayed as the crew fuelled the boat for the trip to Spain.

“You don’t treat paying passengers this way because you are paid by the Government to provide a service,” the worker said.

“You could have seen anger and frustration on the faces of the passengers and truck drivers. People were quarrelling and cussing because they were not expecting this. I thought it would have been smooth sailing...at least for the last time, but it turned into chaos and confusion.”

The worker said the foreign crew was intent on heading to Spain until they realised they could face a backlash.

“They say their company tell them don’t put anything on the vessel because they did not get paid to take cargo back to Trinidad. So everybody walked out. It was only until the security outside insisted that the crew be put back on board they obliged. We spent about two hours on the port,” the worker said.

Yesterday, communications manager of the Inter-Island ferry Service, Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, admitted that the Galicia departed Trinidad late.

“Yes, the Galicia left late because they were taking bunkers from since yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. It was delayed by a few hours.”