Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan yesterday said he felt confident the seabridge woes will now be over when the Galleons Passage makes it’s first commercial sailing to Tobago tomorrow.
He said the US$17.4 million vessel, after three trial runs, will help restore the confidence of travellers sailing between the islands.
“I am confident all the challenges on the sea bridge are over now that we have three vessels operating efficiently to transport cargo and passengers daily. I am more confident that things will only get better now that we have the acquisition for two new fast ferry vessel and we are currently looking at procuring a third vessel, so we can replace the older ones. We can now work on rebuilding that confidence in the sea bridge,” Sinanan said.
The Galleons Passage joins the TT Spirit and Cabo Star which also returns to service after being in drydock.
Sinanan along with other officials will be on-board the Galleons Passage for the sailing from Port of Spain at 6 am. National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) chairman Herbert George also said yesterday there were no issues reported during the last sea trial and the vessel is now ready for sailings.
George said after encountering a number of issues over the past three months after the vessel’s arrival on July 16, he feels relived now that it is scheduled to begin operations between the islands.
“The vessel is ready, the trials were successful and we have all the necessary certification so there is nothing to prevent it from sailing on Monday. I think most of the issues we have encountered have been ironed out, I expect the sailings should be smooth and I expect the experience to be a good one,” George added.
“It was a stressful experience for me and it’s not because of the concerns of whether the vessel was sea worthy or not, it’s just that we had to satisfy the requirements of the various agencies and that was quite a challenge. Initially one would assume that once we purchase a vessel it would be built to meet certain standards and one would have thought that the agencies would have recognised the standards to which the vessel must be at, this was not so. As a result there was a need for retrofit.”
George further stated the vessel will travel at 23 knots with passengers on-board and there would be no need to decrease the speed. “The speed was only decreased during its international voyage from its location to Trinidad. On the inter-island route the vessel, where the route allows, will be doing the maximum speed it can go at which is 23 knots.
“Keep in mind there are certain areas where it will not be able to go at that speed because of the currents so where one can go at that speed the vessel will be operated at that speed,” he said.
The Nidco chairman stressed that the vessel will still be its responsibility while it’s managed by the Port Authority of TT (PATT). He said Nidco will continue to maintain, inspect and equip the vessel.
PATT will only be responsible for scheduling and ticketing. “We will continue to have the vessel to ensure it remains sea-worthy, ensuring that it is managed by competent people, this is the responsibility we will continue to retain.”
The official sailing times of the Galleons Passage are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays at 6 am from Port-of-Spain and 4 pm from Scarborough.
In a statement yesterday, PATT said the TT Spirit will also be sailing this week to maintain a two-vessel service.
The Spirit will operate every day except Wednesday on afternoons from Port of Spain at times of 3 pm, 4 pm and 5 pm, and on mornings from Scarborough at times of 6.30 am, 7.30 am and 9.30 am.