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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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CAL $50 fee worthwhile?

Minority wants report on ticket change penalty

Minority Councillor Faith BYisrael
Minority Councillor Faith BYisrael

COREY CONNELLY

Minority councillor Dr Faith BYisrael has called on Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to disclose the findings of the committee that was created between Caribbean Airlines and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), in May 2018, to examine the impact of the TT$50 one-way change fee to flight and/or date changes made by passengers on domestic flights between Trinidad and Tobago.

BYisrael raised the issue last Tuesday during a news conference hosted by the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) at the party's headquarters, uptown Scarborough.

She recalled the five-member committee, chaired by Gerald Mc Farlane, was required to assess the impact of the fee on Tobagonians and report six months after its June 1 start date. The $50 change fee took effect on December 17, 2018.

"We have been trying to figure out, for the life of us, if that report was done because a little 'birdie' has mentioned that it was done, and what is the report from that committee?" BYisrael asked reporters.

"That committee was set up to look at how Tobagonians were negatively affected by this $50 Tobago penalty and the report was supposed to look at whether we can work this out and whether it was working to our benefit."

BYisrael said the country is yet to receive a proper functioning inter-island system.

"It is quite sad and almost annoying that in August of 2019 we keep having these conversations about inter-island travel between Trinidad and Tobago."

The councillor said she had seen a recent video from the Scarborough Port showing hundreds of people seemingly stranded "because we do not have the proper transportation systems running between Trinidad and Tobago.

"We know that we have the brand new second-hand boat (Jean de la Vallette) that came but we also have the situation with the TT Spirit going on drydock just at this period, which, if you know anything about transport between Trinidad and Tobago, this July, August, September period is one of our highest travel periods.

"So for the TT Spirit to go on drydock and to bring this Jean de la Vallette that cannot carry as many passengers and as many vehicles as we are used to and to marry that with the Galleon's Passage that carries only passengers, you would recognises that we have a significant issue happening where we absolutely cannot travel between Trinidad and Tobago."

BYisrael said transportation issues between the two islands should be a thing of the past.

"What we are saying is that in 2019, we should not be having these issues. We should not be having what appears to be teething issues for a system that has been in place for decades. And, if we had leaders that were really advocating on behalf of Tobagonians and Trinbagonians who travel between the two islands, we would not be dealing with this now."

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