The Port Authority (PATT) is considering additional contingencies if a solution is not forthcoming by September 20, when the 30-year-old Cabo Star cargo vessel will begin its ten-day maintenance programme.
Two weeks ago the TT Inter-Island Transportation Company (ITIT) told the Tobago Chamber it was unable to find a replacement to serve the island from September 20-30.
TTIT said the Cabo Star will sail every Saturday from this weekend until it is sent on dry dock in September.
The Cabo Star, procured on a one-year contract at a daily rate of US$22,500, was chartered by Canadian company Bridgman’s Ferry Service last year, as a temporary solution to the cargo woes. In March this year, the contract was extended for another eight months.
Last Friday, Lyle Alexander, chairman of the PATT, confirmed that negotations with owner of the MV Atlantic Provider had begun.
In 2017 the Atlantic Provider was used as a short-term solution after the Superfast Galicia pulled its services.
On Wednesday Alexander told Newsday Tobago discussions with the Atlantic Provider owner are continuing but PATT is considering other options since the Atlantic Provider might not be the ideal replacement.
He said if a temporary replacement cannot be sourced, additional sailings of the fast ferry will be added, during and if necessary, leading up to the time the vessel goes on dry dock.
He said, “We are considering putting on some additional sailing on the fast ferry; the T&T Spirit. This is expected to make up for the shortage. It has to be done in the context that we only have one vessel. It’s not a final decision, it is as part of the contingency planning... If we are looking at other contingencies we want to be able to make the best arrangements for the shortfall on the sea bridge…What we are doing right now is actively looking at providing the best short-term solution we can.”
Asked about discussions between the Atlantic Provider owner and PATT, Alexander said, “It’s not that discussions with the Atlantic Provider are not going so well, or as planned; they have some issues that must be resolved. They have to get their vessel ready in time.
"But until then we have to continue our efforts to fill the gap. It is possible that their vessel (Atlantic Provider) might not be ready by the time we need it.”
Currently, he said, the port is looking at another suggestion in the Caribbean, but he was unable to give further details on this.