The transportation woes being experienced by Tobago businessmen as a result of the dry-docking of the MV Cabo Star on Thursday should be resolved within the next few days, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said yesterday.
He was responding to complaints from the businessmen, who, up to news time, remained stranded with their vehicles and merchandise at the Port of Port of Spain, after the dry-docking of the cargo vessel.
The MV Cabo Star is expected to resume sailings on September 30. Saying dry-docking was an annual requirement for all vessels, Sinanan said this was not the first time a cargo vessel has had to go for a week to dry dock.
“It happens all the time, so this is just one of those weeks,” he told Sunday Newsday.
“What the port would have done, they would have planned for this months ago by informing all the stakeholders, they would have put in additional sailings.”
Sinanan said: “Unfortunately, when you have one cargo vessel, as we would have had for the past five or six years or more, once it goes in for dry docking you will have that challenge just for that week.” He added: “That is why you would advertise before, put in additional sailings and so, and at least we use the (TT) Spirit to take trucks with loads of goods weighing above 7,000 kgs
“So, it’s just for a week. You will not have any trailers going with blocks and cement and so but we would have given people ample notice to take that across before the boat went into dry dock.”
Samuel Applewhite, Truckers and Traders Association PRO, said the businessmen were told that things would have been put in place for three-tonne trucks to go across to Tobago with cargo “but the situation is that there is nothing in place for three-tonne trucks.”
Applewhite said he spoke to a port official, early yesterday, who told him they would not be taking three-tonne trucks because there was no accomodation on the TT Spirit to secure the trucks on the ground.
“The fast ferries don’t have that accomodation to chain vehicles to the ground. So they would not take the heavy vehicles. So there is no accomodation for trucks on the boat in that sense.”
Applewhite added: “Right now, we have about 15 vehicles that are carrying stuff to Tobago that have been here since Thursday, Friday and today (Saturday). And, we have to come here everyday. I am coming from Fyzabad.. There are those who coming from Couva and Arima and Fyzabad.”
Alluding to his business, Applewhite said: “We need something to be done about the situation. I am carrying pharmaceuticals and you can’t stop medication from going to Tobago. And then you cannot store medication like how you would store flour, sugar, rice or building material. Some medication have expiry dates.”
Speaking in the Senate on Friday, Sinanan said contingency measures were put in place for the ten-day dry-docking of the Cabo Star.