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Ferry crew exhausted
Due to a tired crew, the 6.30 am sailing of the ferry from the port of Port-of-Spain was delayed by five and a half hours yesterday.
The confirmation came from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, who blamed port management for not putting measures in place to ensure there was another crew to take up the slack.
“The challenge we have is the amount of crew members. I have recognised this is a problem and I have asked the Port Association, the Marine Division and the Pilot Association to look into this matter,” Sinanan told the T&T Guardian in an interview.
“We have vessels but we are short on crew. But that to me is not acceptable because we have to ground the vessels and we do not have the crew.”
Passengers were informed prior to the delay, the minister said, but he added that the problem occurred because the crew may have been working consistently over a period of time.
“The crew has to work for a certain amount of hours and they would have to rest for a certain amount of hours,” the minister said.
He said according to maritime law and international standards, a crew must rest for a stipulated period, just like crews in the aircraft industry.
On how many crew members were presently employed and how many more were needed, Sinanan said he did not have such information at hand.
The Port Authority eventually pushed yesterday’s 6.30 am sailing to noon, while the 4 pm sailing was moved to 3 pm.
Over the past days there has been heavy congestion at the ferry terminal in Port-of-Spain, as irate truck drivers complained that their cargo was not being allowed to board the Super Fast Galicia although they had confirmed tickets.
Some passengers with small children wanting to head to Tobago for the Easter vacation also complained of long lines, claiming that preference was being given to sending construction material to Tobago.
The T&T Express only resumed operations on Wednesday after being dry docked and initially experience technical issues on its first journey to Tobago, resulting in a delay.
Describing the events as a “learning experience” for him, Sinanan yesterday said most of the problems stemmed from poor management.
“Management will have to fix this before the next Easter period comes because these are things that have been going on for years,” he said.
“Some where along the line I feel management is dropping the ball and I intend to fix that, because you cannot tell me you have the vessels but we don’t have a crew... why didn’t we have something else in place for that. I am not going to make any excuse for management. They need to get this act together.”
Regarding the Super Fast Galicia, Sinanan, who visited the port early yesterday, said he was informed for the fist time from “members of the chamber and otherwise” that the vessel was too small. But he said this may not be the case.
“It is not that the boat is too small to take all the cargo. What is happening is because of the size of the berth, it cannot take the full capacity because the boat will go down. So this is probably the wrong boat for our infrastructure,” Sinanan said.
There were still a number of goods vehicles bound for Tobago lined up at Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain yesterday. But Sinanan assured all goods would reach the island on time.
“We have a delay but we brought in the water taxis to take up the slack. Obviously they would not have been able to take all the passengers, but the sailing is going to happen today (yesterday),” Sinanan said.
On recommendations going forward, he said management of the port met yesterday and will provide a comprehensive report to him.
“Management met up to late last night (Thursday). I spoke to them and they are meeting again because I told them I want something finalised by the end of today (yesterday) and we are looking at all the options,” Sinanan said.