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New Ferry Arrives
The US$17.4 million catamaran to service the inter-island seabridge is now expected to arrive on our shores from China by the middle of April.
This means that the vessel which is still docked in China will be delayed by a month.
And it would also cost taxpayers an additional US$800,000 in associated fees, moving the total bill so far to US$18.2 million (TT$127.4m).
Finance Minister Colm Imbert gave the details at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference. Last week, he had said the boat would have arrived within the next “two months.”
He said the cost of the vessels will be recovered within two years, noting that is was more expensive to lease a similar vessel in the long-term.
Annually, Imbert said it costs Government “$50 million in rental cost for those leased vessels.”
The new ferry is expected to complement the existing fleet of the T&T Spirit and the T&T Express and as such the problems of the past when one of the vessels is down for repairs there will not be “a tremendous strain” for passengers.
The T&T Spirit has been taken out of service for major repairs in June last year and the T&T Express, which was scheduled to a maintenance check in December, has been granted an extension to operate until the end of next month.
In December, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had promised to have the seabridge issue sorted out by Christmas.
Yesterday, Imbert said the vessel is expected to leave China en route to Trinidad this month.
“It would take approximately two months to get here. So that we expect that it would arrive sometime in the middle of April. That is my guess. It would arrive then if all goes well… if it does not encounter any problems along the way.”
Imbert said what was attractive about the vessel it would be perfect for the proposed Toco to Tobago ferry route.
“It would make that journey in one hour.”
The vessel, he said, would be named after the body of water between Trinidad and Tobago —Galleons Passage.
Questioned about the sailing time of the new vessel, Imbert said it would take about four hours to make the journey from the Port of Port-of-Spain to the Port of Scarborough.
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