More problems on the inter-island cargo ferry the Cabo Star as a damaged electrical switch which controls the engine forced the cancellation of the sailing from Tobago on Wednesday night leaving truckers up in arms and concerned about perishable goods on the vessel.
President of the Inter-Island Truckers Association Horace Amede said he understands the starboard engine went down, He said, “Christmas in Tobago looking bleak because we losing a lot of days for the month so far.”
Amede was uncertain whether the vessel would have made a return sailing to Tobago saying “we are expecting a cruise ship in Tobago with four thousand passengers. We are not sure what time the vessel will get in or if it will sail back to Tobago today.”
He said the situation had greatly inconvenienced drivers who were hoping to make a turn-around to deliver, pick up and return.
Vice president of the Inter Island Truckers Association Samuel Applewhite said although the vessel sailed yesterday morning “it did not take any passengers.”
The truckers and loaders were asked to seek alternative transport on the T&T Express.
He said the vessel left Scarborough sailing on one engine and the normal five- hour trip would have taken almost eight hours.
Applewhite said among the goods on the vessel were perishable foodstuff which is transported for sale in the market on Thursday and Friday. This included oranges, bananas, pommecythere and avocadoes, “whatever fruits are in season they bring it to sell in the wholesale market.”
An official announcement from the management of Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Transportation Company (TTIT) said the vessel experienced “mechanical issues” on Wednesday night and was unable to make its scheduled 11 pm sailing.
The TTIT said the vessel sailed from Tobago at 6.05 am yesterday and the return sailing was delayed. But no time was given for that sailing the advisory stating “users will be advised of the rescheduled time upon the arrival of the vessel into PoS.”
While the official word from the Port was “mechanical issues,” vice president of Bridgemans Services Group Andrew Purdey said “all the engines are fine.”
He identified the problem which caused the delay as “a damaged electrical switch.” Purdey said, “The switch controls the thruster motors and a main engine,” and the vessel could not sail until the switch was replaced.
But he assured there was a spare in Tobago to replace the damaged switch.
Truckers meanwhile say they are concerned that although the Cabo Star was leased for one year they had noticed they are doing work on the vessel and “we have to wonder whether we would be stuck with it.”
Applewhite added: “There are foreigners on the boat installing air condition units,” but he lamented that the units are being installed “in the area they are using.” Their presence on the board he said had also reduced the number of cabins available to truckers and loaders and many of them were forced to sleep on the ground.
Over the past few months the truckers have complained about non-functioning air condition units on the boat which they say make the vessel a sweat shop.