Not good enough.
That is how Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London feels about the current service on the air and sea bridges between Trinidad and Tobago.
London said it is often difficult for people to travel between the islands, and even more so in peak travel periods. It’s even worse now because only one of the two inter-island ferries—the T&T Express—is currently in operation, he stated.
“I think all of us are aware that the situation on the air bridge has been unsatisfactory for quite some time,” London told the weekly post Executive Council media briefing on Wednesday. “A number of appointments in my office have had to be cancelled because people simply could not get to Tobago.
“This has had a very significant effect not only on business arrangements but of course the convenience of people travelling between Tobago and Trinidad.”
The Chief Secretary cited the impact of inter-island travel woes on Tobago’s tourism sector and economic development.
“That visitor from Trinidad who can afford a choice and has an option can actually find it easier to travel to one of the islands or even to Miami or some other country. It is easier to travel to that destination by Caribbean Airlines than to travel to Tobago by the same Caribbean Airlines,” he said.
The Chief Secretary said he has spoken to Caribbean Airlines chairman Philip Marshall about Tobago’s concerns. They will meet on Tuesday (July 14), along with Secretary of Tourism and Transportation Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine and representatives of the Tobago Chapter of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, to discuss possible short and medium term solutions.
London said recommendations were made to fix the problems in the past but a “fundamental challenge with mindset” has derailed progress. If the service is not seen as essential, he said, it will not be improved because it will continue to be held as a “lesser priority” than regional and international travel.
London has also sought answers on the sea bridge by speaking with Port Authority chairman Suruj Gangapersad, who assured him that the T&T Spirit will return to operation by July 20. In the meantime, the Port Authority has scheduled double sailings of the T&T Express to make it easier to travel between Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the Chief Secretary, the THA will meet with members of the Port Authority board soon to discuss ways of improving the service.
“The sea and air bridges are our lifeline,” London stressed, “and I say to the people that as far as I am concerned we have got to treat that as how we treat the roadway from San Fernando to Port of Spain. It is just as important and should be given the same degree of priority.”