THA Minority Leader Watson Duke has described the acquisition of the Galleons Passage – the new passenger ferry vessel – as a backward move and an insult to the people of Tobago.
A photo of the vessel, which is expected to arrive shortly, was posted by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert on Thursday on social media. The new US$17.4 million catamaran Galleon’s Passage can accommodate 700 passengers along with 100 vehicles. The vessel has an aluminium super hull, is 74 metres long, has a draught of 2.75 metres and has good fuel consumption, Imbert said during last week’s post-Cabinet news conference.
Minority leader Duke said Tobago is not prepared to accept the new ferry.
Speaking to Newsday Tobago on Friday, Watson said, “The economy is dead and this boat doesn’t help. What the boat does is drive the nail further in the coffin. Though it is not the last nail, it is one that has been driven further into the economic coffin. The boat is carrying fewer people between the islands, as opposed to what we had before. It is even carrying fewer people to Trinidad, killing the economy further, as opposed to what we had.
“The technology in the boat is very old, because in an advanced technological era, they have selected a boat the has taken the travel time (from) two and a half hours to four hours and they are offering Toco as an alternative route.
Imbert, he said, "has insulted the people of Tobago and we do not want that boat.”
Duke said he doubted whether the vessel is "brand new," as Imbert has repeatedly claimed.
“I have good information that that boat was not recently built,” he said.
He believes it was a mistake for the Cabinet to source a boat.
“I am asking the government to get out of the boat business and try to run the country properly. Leave the boat business for the Port Authority of TT, who has the human resource and technical competencies to select an appropriate vessel.”
Chairman of the Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Demi John Cruickshank declined to comment on the new ferry, saying he would wait until after a meeting today with Tobago stakeholders, Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Minister of Transport Rohan Sinanan and others.