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Cargo vessels cost US$22,000 a day
The barge and ferry being rented by the Government to transport cargo between Trinidad and Tobago will cost taxpayers US$22,000 a day, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said yesterday.
Sinanan spoke about the new inter-island cargo arrangments after touring the barge Trinity Tranporter and ferry Atlantic Provider.
The two vessels have been contracted for a month with the option to renew for a further month or two, he said. Government rented them ito fill the void left by the Super Fast Galicia which left the country on Friday night.
Earlier in the day on Friday, drama unfolded on the Scarborough port when the foreign crew of the Super Fast Galicia attempted to leave the country without returning to Trinidad with trucks.
Sinanan said he believed the crew of the Super Fast Galicia panicked after seeing Coast Guard vessels in Tobago.
“I think what happened there is that the provider panicked knowing fully well that we might be facing litigation matters but I spoke to him and gave him the assurance that the Government at no point in time was considering to impound any vessel. That was never an option, that was never on the cards,” the minister said.
“And I think when the provider saw the Coast Guard vessels in Tobago they probably started to think outside the box and I called him and gave him the assurance that the Government will not consider impounding any vessel and he immediately started to load the cargo and came back to Trinidad. I think it was a little panic on the side of the provider,.”
Sinanan said since Government believes it has a contract with the Super Fast Galicia based on advice from Senior Counsel Dr Claude Denbow, if it is not present for sailings tomorrow, litigation matters will commence because it will be a breach of contract.
Sinanan said the Super Fast Galicia has a contract to service the sea bridge until October 17.
He said the void left by the vessel’s departure will be filled by the Trinity Transporter and the Atlantic Provider and there will be no disruption in service.
“What we have seen today is the first phase. This is the short-term plan to ensure there are no hiccups, there are no disturbance to the cargo shipment to Tobago,” Sinanan said.
“Remember once we got the letter from the provider that they were going to pull the vessel we immediately went into action and we announced three plans.
“One was the short-term plan to ensure the cargo was not disrupted, which is basically what we are seeing here today. We saw two vessels that were contracted for one month with the option to renew for a further month or two. This is to ensure that the cargo is not disrupted,” he said.
Sinanan said tenders for a medium-term vessel will be opened tomorrow. The long-term plan is to purchase a new vessel, he said.
The Atlantic Provider will be rented for US$14,000 a day, while the barge Trinity Transporter, which will transport construction material and heavy equipment, will be rented for US$8,000.
Sinanan said the two vessels operating in tandem will provide greater capacity than the Super Fast Galicia.
“This is short-term for one month and remember it is not only about saving, or the cost we have to ensure that the cargo reaches to Tobago,” he said.
Sinanan said the Port Authority’s board will visit Tobago tomorrow to have discussions with stakeholders to iron out whatever challenges there may be.