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Saturday 15 December 2018
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Tobago

TT Spirit off sea bridge indefinitely

Cracked crankcase docks ferry at Scarborough port

Ferry talks: Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, centre, talks with representatives of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) at the Division of Education on Monday. From left are PATT’s acting Finance Manager, Nadine McKenzie, Terminal Manager Godfrey Redman, Board Commissioner Tommy Elias, Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure Kwesi Des Vignes, acting Administrator at the Division of Tourism Hazel Peterkin, and the Division’s Marketing Officer, Nigel Wilson.
Ferry talks: Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, centre, talks with representatives of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) at the Division of Education on Monday. From left are PATT’s acting Finance Manager, Nadine McKenzie, Terminal Manager Godfrey Redman, Board Commissioner Tommy Elias, Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure Kwesi Des Vignes, acting Administrator at the Division of Tourism Hazel Peterkin, and the Division’s Marketing Officer, Nigel Wilson.

Sailings of the T&T Spirit have been cancelled for an indefinite period of time with Port Authority Chairman Lyle Alexander denying reports of a cracked engine, saying rather that it was a cracked crankcase that has led the vessel being pulled out of service. The T&T Spirit sailed from Trinidad on Saturday with sailings cancelled as of Sunday, with the vessel now laid up at the port in Scarborough. This leaves the Galleons Passage as the lone passenger ferry on the sea bridge.

In June 5, 2017, the T&T Spirit was taken off the sea bridge for an initial month of maintenance work. It took almost a year before it was returned to the route - in April 2018, - following several failed sea trials when it came off drydock, and with an estimated US$8 million in repairs.

On Monday, acting Chief Executive Officer of the of TT Inter-Island Transport Company, Vilma Lewis-Cockburn said an update would be made available by midday today, and that the vessel was pulled from service for ongoing repairs to the crankcase on the port inner main engine.

Sources told Newsday Tobago that the vessel’s engine was damaged when it collided with an object out at sea some three weeks ago, when the vessel was initially pulled off service on November 12, with Port representatives telling travellers that a part to repair it was expected from Germany. The boat returned to the sea bridge on the weekend of November 18, chartered by the People’s National Movement for its convention held at Shaw Park Cultural Complex on November 18.

President of the Tobago Unique Bed and Breakfast Self Catering Association, Kaye Trotman, who had previously expressed hope that two ferries working on the sea bridge would help domestic tourism pick up as Trinidadians regained confidence in the sea bridge, on Monday said the breakdown of the service was a blow for the tourism sector.

“I do not know what else…the fact is that the situation has not been solved, so the sector is still experiencing low or mediocre occupancy, because there is no reliability in the service.

“Will our boat woes ever be completely solved? It is yet to be seen. We were hoping with the Galleons Passage, you had two vessels, we would hopefully see some turnaround in this quarter, with some reliable sailing schedule,” she said.

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