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Galicia causing ‘quakes’

Published: 
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Hyatt sends $1.3m damage bill to Govt

The Super Fast Galicia has reportedly caused damage to the Hyatt Regency hotel now estimated at US$200,000 (TT$1, 354, 000).

Two letters sent by the hotel chain to UDeCOTT and the Port-of-Spain Infrastructure Company between September 2015 and May 2016 lament the “daily disturbance and interruption” the vessel causes.

It said the “vessel shakes our hotel every time it moves, causing concern to guests as it feels like an earthquake.”

The hotel complained that the Galicia also “causes severe cavitation” when it departs and it is now experiencing “cracks in the windows and failure of the window seals.” It said 58 windows were damaged and are now in need of repair as a result of this.

Hyatt Regency said it receives daily complaints from guests and says it has been forced to sell some of its rooms at drastically discounted rates due to the disturbance and discomfort caused when the Galicia is moored behind it.

The letters are contained in a pile of documents forwarded to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who is now conducting a probe into whether there may have been and wrong doing in the Galicia deal.

Some of the documents now in the AG’s possession, which GML got hold of, also show that the Galicia was initially deemed unsuitable for the sea bridge. Following a technical, commercial and statutory assessment done in March 2014 by then acting CEO of the Trinidad & Tobago Inter-Island Transport Corporation, Leon Grant, it was concluded that the vessel only satisfied two of the six areas deemed critical for its suitability to service the sea bridge.

Contacted on the issue, former transport minister Stephan Cadiz said while the Government claims the vessel is not suitable, Tobago stakeholders and users of the sea bridge were satisfied with the performance of the Galicia.

He said the Warrior Spirit was not perfect and “neither was the Galicia.” However, he said it served the route at 100 per cent reliability.

Asked why funding was approved even before the board sanctioned the use of the vessel, Cadiz told Guardian Media he would need to “go through the paper work” to verify the actual dates. He said traditionally, the port would do its evaluation and inform the ministry on how it wants to proceed.

He responded specifically to the weaknesses identified in a report by Grant, saying he was not wrong, but he did not factor in the long term planning which the Port Authority and the government had to consider.

Cadiz also said some of the existing port infrastructure was old and trying to match a vessel with what existed would “not serve Tobago’s best interest at all.”

According to Cadiz, the area where the Warrior Spirit was docking was an old wooden ramp and what was needed was “infrastructure that is going to last 30-40 years.”

He also said he was not aware of any strong arm tactics by Intercontinental, saying the contract was “negotiated in good faith.”

GALICIA’S WEAKNESSES

Vessel passenger capacity (Inadequate) The Super Fast Galicia’s passenger capacity is only 120, which may not meet the requirements of the number of truckers/drivers currently accessing the cargo vessel facility.

Additionally, should the fast ferries be out of service due to mechanical issues or drydocking, or during times of increased demand on peak periods, the cargo vessel passenger capacity may not be able to serve as an alternative.

Operational costs Operational costs likely to triple in the next six (6) months due to the presence of both vessels (MV Super Fast Galicia & Warrior Spirit).

Vessel Utilisation The MV Super Fast Galicia, operating in conjunction with the MV Warrior Spirit, may create instances where the supply of available space exceeds customer demand. 

PATT therefore may not achieve full use of the MV Super Fast Galicia as it may remain unused for periods of time.

Vessel Configuration (deemed incompatible with PATT infrastructure) MV Super Fast Galicia has five decks.

However, based on limitations at the berthing facilities in PoS & Scarborough, only one of the decks can be used. The entire deck five rendered completely unusable because of current infrastructure in Tobago.

Maximising usage of the Galicia will require major infrastructure works. Additional works will include fortification of the docking jetty due to the increased tonnage of the new vessel, an increase in the length of the jetty and considerable dredging.

Landing ramps on the quay will require widening, particularly in Tobago, to facilitate maximized use of cargo decks. Berthing arrangements will have implications for domestic and export cargo, customs, security, vessel traffic and space restrictions.

Vessel will not be unusable when the TCL vessel docks in Tobago Because of the unsuitability of the vessel, an additional cost of a barge USD$1500 (TT$10, 155)/day and USD$25000 (TT$169250)/ month.

That does not include the $50 million in initial dredging and an additional $20m every two years.