Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority member, Farley Augustine has described the current sea bridge service as a “crisis”, contending that “it was created” and calling for the “punitive measures” against the perpetrators.
Speaking at the enquiry into the procurement and maintenance of the inter-island ferries by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Land and Physical Infrastructure last Wednesday at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough, Augustine declared:
“Until as a country, we begin to seriously put punitive measures in place against those who incur this kind of damage to the public purse, then we are not going anywhere.
“You could go after the Sonia type boat next, we could end up with the same situation, you would change the configuration of the Port Authority, we can end up with the same problem and so this committee (JSC), Parliament has an opportunity now, in a very punitive way, to deal with those who would have created this crisis.
“This crisis in my mind, this crisis was created. It did not happen by accident, it is no emergency, it was created.”
Augustine said the unreliable and inefficient service has hit Tobago at the worst possible time, when tourism on the island was down, the local economy as well as in the Caribbean and globally, in poor shape and when “we thought we would have received better from governance.”
“Tobago has suffered through this more than anyone else and I want to implore everyone on the other side of the waters that is watching, because there is a tendency to think that this is a Tobago issue only, but this is a national issue because Tobago issues are national issues,” he said.
Augustine also contended that the governance system was not working.
“It is not working, because if we knew contracts were going to be ended, if we knew that we needed new boats because what we had was old, then we should have known to put things in place long before the system collapsed,” he said.
The enquiry will continue on September 18 at Tower D of the Port-of- Spain International Waterfront Centre and on September 20 in Tobago.