This country has lost the use of its only designated inter-island cargo ferry, the Super Fast Galicia. The Super Fast Galicia’s last day of sailing will take place on Good Friday (April 14) before it is returned to its owner, Trasmed.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan yesterday confirmed that the country was served two weeks notice that Trasmed would be terminating the contract with respect to the Super Fast Galicia.
Trasmed has already included the Super Fast Galicia in its schedule from as early as next month.
The Super Fast Galicia will be operating in Spain from May 22, according to Trasmed’s posted schedule.
“They gave us notice that the last day of sailing would be (Easter) Friday which we found was kind of strange because normally with something like this they would give you 30 days notice. They basically gave us two weeks notice,” Sinanan said.
Sinanan said based on the way negotiations with Trasmed had been going he was not “too surprised” with the outcome.
The issue of Trasmed’s termination of the contract will be looked at by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Sinanan, however, said contingencies will be put in place to ensure that things move smoothly in terms of the transport of cargo between Trinidad and Tobago.
After this country was served notice by Trasmed on Friday, Sinanan called a meeting with the management of the Port Authority yesterday to discuss the issue.
“On Wednesday we will be meeting with stakeholders and we will inform them as to the plans going forward, our short term, medium term and long term plans for the Tobago ferry service,” Sinanan said.
“We have our contingencies in place so on Wednesday we will just relay that to the stakeholders, to allay all the fears they may have and the concerns they may have. We have things under control,” he said.
One of Trasmed’s main bones of contention with respect to the contract for the Super Fast Galicia is said to have been the failure by this country to firm up an 18-month promised contract for the vessel’s services.
The vessel operated on a month-to-month lease arrangement.
The Super Fast Galicia has been operating in this country since May 2014.
The lease of the Super Fast Galicia was said to be $10 million less than the cost of the then leased cargo shipping vessel the TT Warrior Spirit. The annual lease for the TT Warrior Spirit was $58 million.
The TT Warrior Spirit at that time suffered severe mechanical setbacks and was operating on one of four engines.
Last August the lease on the Warrior Spirit expired and was not renewed.
Since then, the Super Fast Galicia has been this country’s lone designated inter-island cargo vessel.
Within recent times, however, there have been issues with respect to the Super Fast Galicia and its sailings on the inter-island route.
Among the issues that have affected the vessel’s sailings have been the berthing of cruise ships in the Port-of-Spain harbour and the berthing of a visiting British naval vessel in the Scarborough harbour.
There were also issues related to the changing of the vessel’s flag and the untimely payment of fees for the boat’s rental.
Up to early last year, the 14-year-old Super Fast Galicia, which is 160-metres long and has the capacity to carry 112 passengers, 110 trailers and 60 cars, operated on the inter-island route without many hiccups
Trasmed has owned the Super Fast Galicia since 2005.
According to the Shippax website, the Super Fast Galicia will be upgraded before entering service with Trasmed.
The vessel’s passenger capacity is expected to be increased to 300 and will operate between Valencia and Ibiza.
Late February, Christine Sahadeo resigned as the chairman of the Port Authority board with the other members of the board following suit soon after.
Sinanan said while a new board has not been appointed as yet, this situation has not affected the issue with the contract related to the Super Fast Galicia.
Former permanent secretary in the ministry of finance, Alison Lewis, is earmarked to become the new chairman of the Port Authority with Adrian Beharry as her deputy.
This board is expected to be appointed this week.
“Next week the board should be in place but it does not affect the operation of the port,” Sinanan said.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Joel Julien)