THE mechanical problems which cancelled Monday's sailing of the TT Spirit and forced it to be pulled from the sea bridge indefinitely have left a feeling of deja vu and disappointment among Tobagonians.
The TT Spirit was scheduled to leave Trinidad at 4pm on Monday but never left the port, forcing passengers to scramble to change their tickets.
The TT Inter-Island Transportation (TTIT) Co. Ltd confirmed there was an issue with the vessel in a press release, noting that the 6:30 am sailing from Tobago on Tuesday morning was also cancelled. The TT Spirit was expected to sail Tuesday at 4pm from Port of Spain, however, a note on TTIT’s Facebook page informed passengers that the afternoon sailing was also cancelled.
Speaking to Newsday Tuesday, Chairman of the Port Authority, Lyle Alexander said the ferry is “out of commission indefinitely due to mechanical issues” as they are currently awaiting parts to come from Germany to effect repairs. He said the necessary parts should arrive by today and is hoping for a speedy resolution.
Alexander's optimism was not shared by THA Minority Councillor Dr Faith BYisrael who reiterated TT does not have a functioning inter-island transport system.
“I am almost annoyed that at this point we are still speaking about this… It is time for Tobagonians to stand up. We remember we were here, we were at this very spot over a year ago talking about this very thing, and the PNM who are in charge of Tobago joked about the fact that there was the young man (livestock farmer complaining about ferry woes) with the goat right here at James Park, and years later we are still here.
“Tobagonians, you all need to stand up, we’ve had too much of this happening. They’re the ones who promised us that PNM in Tobago and PNM in Trinidad would mean a better life for Tobagonians, and obviously that is not happening. It’s time to speak up and its time to get rid of them,” she said.
President of the Tobago Unique Bed and Breakfast Self Catering Association, Kaye Trotman has labelled the situation as a disappointment for the tourism sector.
“Will our boat woes ever be completely solved? It is yet to be seen. We were hoping with the Galleon’s Passage, and you had two vessels, we would hopefully see some turnaround in this quarter with some reliable sailing schedule," she said.
Trotman added, “If it is that we have gone back to one boat as it seems – and we’re probably likely to be there for a little while if the part has to be sourced from Germany – the impact on the sector would not be as we were hoping to experience this quarter. It’s another disappointment to the sector; it adds to people’s general feeling that a solution is never really fully forthcoming, so that people’s expectation would always be wait and see, and in waiting and seeing it only adds to the disappointment.”
She believes the Galleon's Passage will not be able to service the sea bridge commuters operating on its own.
“I am not sure the one Galleon’s Passage with the (sailing) timing that it has would be sufficient to build back the confidence in the public and deal with the turnaround in the domestic area. We’re truly disheartened and we’re really hoping that the authorities can quickly bring some resolve to the situation.”
President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association Chris James declined to comment as he is currently in the United Kingdom and was unaware of the situation.