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Monday 21 January 2019
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Cruickshank: Seabridge woes hurting Tobago’s tourism

Former chairman of the Tobago Division of the TT Camber of Industry and Commerce, Demi John Cruickshank.
Former chairman of the Tobago Division of the TT Camber of Industry and Commerce, Demi John Cruickshank.

WITH Christmas fast approaching and the continued challenges on the seabridge, former head of the Tobago Division of the TT Camber of Industry and Commerce, Demi John Cruickshank, is calling for an immediate fix to the daily woes faced by commuters.

Cruickshank told Newsday on Saturday, the tourism sector is the one mainly affected by the frequent breakdowns on the inter-island route.

“The fast ferry situation does not affect the business community really in terms of getting cargo to Tobago. The problem is that people are not coming to the island, and therefore we don’t have consumption. People are not buying. Especially now at Christmas, there is a lot of trade between Trinidad and Tobago… and since we don’t have the reliability of the fast ferry, people can’t move freely, and the tourism industry is losing out.”

He called on the government to hasten their plans to lease an additional fast ferry to assist with the load in the absence of the TT Express.

“At the PNM convention recently, the Prime Minister did announce that a fast ferry is expected sometime shortly to accompany the TT Spirit and the Galleon’s Passage. We are holding them to that because really and truly, the TT Express will not be returned and the TT Spirit, with the major engine challenge, doesn’t really bring any confidence to anybody. So, there is need to rent or lease an additional fast ferry quickly, so people’s confidence can be rebuilt.”

The TT Spirit, the lone fast fer­ry on the seabridge, was pulled from sailing last week Tuesday for re­pairs, after a cracked crankcase was reported. On Wednesday, the Galleons Passage, which was on its way to Tobago, turned around mid-voyage with NIDCO citing “severe weather conditions” as the reason. It resumed sailing the day after.

In a Facebook post last week Wednesday in­cor­po­ra­tor of the new­ly-formed Tobago Business Chamber, Martin George, described the con­tin­u­ing disruptions on the inter-island route as “un­accept­able”.

“The To­ba­go Busi­ness Cham­ber con­demns the con­tin­ued and col­lec­tive­ly abysmal fail­ure of the Gov­ern­ment, the board of the Port Au­thor­i­ty and NID­CO in their com­pre­hen­sive fail­ings and incompetencies in mis­man­ag­ing the seabridge, which re­mains a life­line of ne­ces­si­ty for the cit­i­zens of Trinidad and To­ba­go, and even more so for the av­er­age To­bag­on­ian.

“We re­spect­ful­ly call up­on the To­bag­o­ni­ans who head these en­ti­ties to do bet­ter for your fel­low To­bag­o­ni­ans and just stop with the ex­cus­es and get this fixed as a mat­ter of ur­gency. The peo­ple of To­ba­go de­serve bet­ter than this.”

But even with plans of getting an additional fast ferry soon and the two promised new fast fer­ries which is expected to arrive in 2020, George via telephone on Saturday said: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have grown both weary and wary of promises from this government on this issue and it appears they might serve their entire five-year term without fixing, properly or permanently, this single issue of inadequate, efficient, reliable, dependable and professionally managed inter-island transport.”

Port Au­thor­i­ty chair­man Lyle Alexan­der told Newsday on Saturday that “the ves­sel (TT Spir­it) is ex­pect­ed to be back on the route to­day (Sat­ur­day). The repairs have been completed and I am just awaiting confirmation as to what time it would sail.”

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