Government has given the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) approval to lease two vessels, Cabo Star, and the passenger boat, Ocean Flower, to service the seabridge between Trinidad and Tobago.
Anytime after July 17 the Cabo Star will arrive in T&T and by September the Ocean Flower will follow.
The announcement of the acquisition of the two new vessels was made by PATT chairman, Allison Lewis, at a news conference at the Ministry of Works’ Port-of-Spain head office yesterday. Works Minister, Rohan Sinanan, who had promised an announcement would be made this week, sat among members of the media and allowed Lewis to tell the good news.
The Cabo Star and Ocean Flower, leased from Bridgemans Services Group of Vancouver, Canada, at a daily cost of US$22,500 (around TT$157,500) and US$26,500 (TT$185,500), respectively, are expected to fill the transportation gap created when the Super Fast Galicia left these shores in April after a contractual fallout with PATT.
The Cabo Star will cost the Government TT$4,725,000 around a month and the Oceal Flower, TT$5,565,000.
The MV Provider barge, rented daily for US$14,500 (TT$97,150), replaced the Galicia but has been unable to take truckers with their Cabo.
Tobago’s seabridge woes worsened when the T&T Spirit, one of the passenger boats, was put in dry dock for repairsl. The T&T Express has been the only passenger boat working between the islands but has been malfunctioning and causing travelling delays. This vessel, not operating at its optimum level, is expected to also be dry docked in September for a lengthy overhaul.
Tobagonians have been experiencing travelling woes, and reported food shortages, since the Galicia left.
Lewis said the Ocean Flower, with a speed of 38 knots, has a passenger capacity of 840 and can carry 158 vehicles at a time. The Cabo Star, unlike the Provider, has room for 120 passengers, including truckers.
She said the PATT made the recommendations for the acquisition of the vessels after it conducted a due diligence and inspection process.
“There has been speculation but we have done every single thing we needed to do get the vessels.”
She noted the leasing of the vessels are only an interim measure to deal with the extremely challenging ferry service situation. “This is not an end. This is just to take care of our immediate needs.”
She said the authority expects to acquire its own new, custom built Cabo vessel but this will not happen until after three years. She said in the meantime PATT will be looking for another charter vessel to bridge this three-year gap.