Last week’s column focused on stagnation in the tourism sector and the weak marketing of T&T.
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NHSL unveils new addition
In an effort to stop an exodus of pilots, engineers and other qualified staff from the National Helicopter Services Limited (NHSL), Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz has asked the company to embark on internal salary negotiations. Cadiz said so when he attended an official function where the NHSL unveiled its brand new Sikorsky-76D helicopter at its Camden, Couva,headquarters.
NHSL leased the $95 million aircraft from the Milestone Aviation Group for three years. The 76D is one of two built and the first to be put into commercial operation globally. Itwas leased to provide services to Repsol with at least five flights daily. NHSL plans on adding two more D76 helicopters to its fleet in July for a total of nine aircraft in its operation.
Joshey Mahabir, general manager of NHSL, said the company spent considerable funds to train pilots and other staff only to lose them to a higher paying competitor which has the luxury of deep pockets while NHSL, a state company, operates under the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and a process of salary negotiations. Mahabir said NHSL lost about five or six pilots and engineers annually. Cadiz said NHSL was operating in a competitive environment and must be removed from under the CPO.
On transportation matters, Cadiz said a $750 million 21st century licensing office was expected to come into operation by mid-year at Fredrick Settlement, Caroni, and a full access centre wiould be opened in Tobago. The minister said there were also plans afoot to develop an effective transportation policy to make life easier for the commuting public.
He said Government planned to get new fast ferries for Tobago since the current vessels were ageing and used up $100 million in diesel annually. Cadiz said there was a strong possibility that they would be replaced by vessels powered by LNG which would use less than $10 million in fuel annually. Cadiz also announced plans for all public transportation vehicles to be powered by CNG. There are plans to expand the water taxi service, with ports to be established at Point Fortin and Waterloo.
Cadiz said the service was underutilised, transporting just 1500 passengers daily when it hadthe capacity to move spproximatekly 9000 people a day. ASlso speaking at the function was Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine who said there would be increased activity in the energy sector over the next six years. He said this was due to increased investor confidence in T&T economy and the incentives offered in the energy industry.