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Outrage on the Port

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Stranded ferry passengers accuse Govt of ill-treating Tobagonians...

Passengers affected by the cancellation of the T&T Express were put on their first domestic Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight last night while others had no idea what time they were expected to depart to Tobago yesterday, which triggered an outrage and tempers to flare.

So angered were the passengers, many of whom were Tobagonians, they slammed the Government for the collapse of the sea bridge, stating that the situation had reached crisis.

Sitting in the atrium of the Piarco International Airport, vice-captain of Tobago-based T&TEC New East Side Dimension Maurice Muir, one of hundreds left stranded and faced delays, bashed the Government for ill-treating Tobagonians.

“We as Tobagonians who support ah we boy to be Prime Minister…presently now ah we boy punishing ah we because he not doing nothing to assist ah we right now, ah we in Trinidad and being punished because of ah we boy,” Muir said.

Muir said it was high incompetence on the part of the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) to get the T&T’s Express’ certificate renewed at such a critical time as Carnival.

“Why now they trying to fix it, why? Why the Government now putting things in place to move the people from Tobago to Trinidad and back? Why are they continuing messing up Tobagonians like that?”

Muir said from the beginning there was lack of proper communication to passengers.

Upon arrival at the airport at 8 am with his 60-member whose ages ranged from 16 to over 65, CAL had no idea what time they would depart.

“We have no information when is our flight. What we heard there would be three flights at 7, 9 and 11 pm for passengers who were scheduled to sail on Friday, but nobody has told us anything.

To compound matters, Muir said the majority of members “don’t have a cent in their pocket to buy anything to eat or drink. So we have to sit down here for this amount of hours hoping to get a flight to go home.”

Muir said he contacted an official of Pan Trinbago who advised him to stay at their airport since they were sorting out things.

The situation inside the Port-of-Spain Ferry Terminal was even more frustrating and chaotic, as passengers with confirmed tickets reached their boiling point.

Pacing the floor of the terminal, Pyralal Singh could not contain his anger after hearing on PATT’s PA system that the first CAL flight for ferry passengers with confirmed tickets was 7 pm, followed by two later flights.

PATT also advised passengers boarding the 7 pm flight to either wait for the 3 pm Public Transport Service Corporation shuttle to take them to airport or they can go home and return.

Singh showed up at the port at 6 am to have his ticket sign off and numbered.

“This is what you call bad management…madness to say the least. I came here early thinking that I would have gotten on an early flight but now they telling me the plane leaving at 7 pm. So they expect me to wait here for nine hours before I board the bus?This have me so upset.”

Singh along with 19 others had planned to spend Carnival weekend in Tobago in a guest house which they rented for $8,000.

“You have an airline that can run flights every 15 minutes and you telling me I have to wait so long.”

After breaking the news to his family, Singh said a few of them wanted to cancel the trip because it had ruined their plans.

“In all, we would have spent close to $30,000 on this vacation and it was turning into a disaster,” Singh said.

Nearby, Darion Hernandez of Lopinot sat with a dejected look on his face.

For months Hernandez, his wife and their two children had set their hearts on going to Tobago on a four-day trip.

“Imagine my car leaving on the Cabo Star on the 2 pm sailing today and I leaving on a flight five hours later. I have seasoned meat, groceries and foodstuff in my car. By the time I reach Tobago tonight all them things spoil. This turned me off. I tell my wife I not feeling to go again. This is real failure on the Government.”

Communications manager of CAL Dionne Ligoure, when questioned about the three late flights said, “We are managing the operations to ensure inter-island travellers are transported. Operationally we will adjust as required. The 7 pm is one of the services being operated.”

PATT chairman Allison Lewis in response to a text message about an update on the T&T Express said, “The port has been working on getting the extension and as soon as we get it and the rough seas bulletin is lifted the vessel will be back in operation.”

Pressed about the late flights for its passengers, Lewis did not respond.


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