The T&T Spirit will operate daily, including on Wednesdays, transporting both passengers and cargo from September 20-30 while the cargo ferry, the Cabo Star, is on drydock.
Lyle Alexander, Chairman of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, told Newsday Tobago on Wednesday, that he was hoping all repairs would be completed on the Cabo Star by September 30, though he could not give details of what work was to be done on the boat.
“It is a routine drydocking. I know one thing is they have to check the haul, other than that the details of the engineering and repairs needed to be done are not in my possession. When we have a planned dry-docking, it will be obvious what parts need to be replaced or services at a particular time because it is all based on the time the vessel has spent in operation,” Alexander said.
“We are not planning to go beyond the 10 days for the repairs to be done. If it is extended beyond 10 days, whatever arrangements are in progress, we will just continue with that, but we are hopeful that they (repairs) will not need more time.”
Asked about measures to transport large cargo, Alexander said not all cargo trucks would be allowed on board the T&T Spirit, only vehicles up to 7,000 kg will be allowed and that “anything heavier than that we won’t be able to transport.
“This is why we laid on the additional sailings prior to the dry docking, from every Saturday from August 25 up till last weekend on the Cabo Star.”
Stressing that the T&T Spirit would be operating daily for the ten days, he said:
“During this time, we are not going to prioritise what goods could and can’t go, we will leave that to truckers and business owners who need to move their stuff. As I said we did provide an option for businesses to stock-up on items that they will need, and we are expecting that stuff like their daily bread and those types of things will be transported on the daily sailings.”
Alexander said no discussions were held with the Tobago Chamber about contingency measures to replace the Cabo Star during the dry docking period. He said a notice of the failed efforts to locate a replacement ferry for the Cabo Star and plans to use the T&T Spirit was sent to the Chamber and plans to utilize the TT Spirit during the 10 days was sent to the Chamber.
“The expectation is that if people had a problem with that, they would have reached out to us (Port Authority) and discussed it. As far as I am aware, all questions that were asked then were addressed, but there was no special discussion session on plans for the Cabo Star dry docking with the Tobago Chamber.”
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, on Wednesday evening, told Newsday Tobago the Port Authority has communicated with all stakeholders on the matter, regularly, before any final decision was made. He added that plans agreed on was for the use of the T&T Spirit, and that extra sailings of the Cabo Star were to facilitate increased inventory to cover the two weeks of dry docking.
Horace Amede, President of the Truckers and Traders Association, had commented on the additional sailings of the Cabo Star to allow for stocking up on goods, stating that there was no benefit in that for truckers nor Tobago businesses as Trinidad merchants have stopped extending credit to the island’s businessmen, until money owed on previous purchases were paid up.