MINORITY Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly Watson Duke, commenting on the electrical issue onboard the Galleons Passage on Friday morning, told Newsday he will not race against a vessel that is defective.
Duke reiterated the Galleons Passage is not fit for transporting passengers between Trinidad and Tobago, and predicts if the boat continues to travel at 23 knots it will be destroyed within a year.
Last month, at a briefing in Trinidad, Duke vowed to race a pirogue from Tobago to Trinidad to prove it could beat the Galleons Passage's sailing time.
He also alleged that for political reasons, the government had “raced” the vessel to Tobago at a dangerously high speed, 22 knots, to do the trip in 4.5 hours.
On Friday, Duke said, “It was a joke when I heard (Rohan) Sinanan (Minister of Works and Transport), talk about water cannons for me when I am racing alongside the boat. so I need to keep a particular distance. I laughed because I know they are pushing the boat at its maximum at half-capacity. Every time they race that boat against that type of ocean, it is damaging that boat, and it wouldn’t last long.”
He said the electrical issues reported on Friday did not surprise him but only lived up to his expectations. “I maintain that boat has a journey (time) of six hours-plus when carrying its full capacity.
"As a brand-new boat is should not be going through that type of problems. The boat is still on a trial run, and until they are carrying 700 passengers and 100 cars, as promised, then we are still on a trial run. I will not race a boat on a trial run, I will not beat a man when he is down, I will wait until he gets up. So I’m asking them, when will the boat will sail fully? When will the trial end so we can see the real capability of the boat?”
Duke also slammed the THA Executive Council for willingly accepting a defective vessel on behalf of Tobagonians. Duke said it was a shame that less than three weeks after the Galleons Passage began sailing the seabridge, an electrical issue during the 6.30 am sailing from Port of Spain mde it stall in mid-voyage for 15 minutes.
“The THA was busy cutting a red ribbon for a boat that can be described as a jack--- boat, meaning a slow boat. However, we in the THA minority will not be engaged in frolicking things that are of mediocre class when we believe people in Tobago deserve first-class service and accommodation."