THA Chief Secretary seeks clarification on the docking of the T&T Express

Chief Secretary Orville London.
THA Chief Secretary Orville London is seeking clarification of the docking of the T&T Express, one of two fast ferries on the Port of Spain to Scarborough sea route.

“We try to be very fair, very pragmatic but I think that the public has a right to know all the facts,” he told reporters at last Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing.

He explained that if the ferry was not sent on dry dock then it loses its license because there was a process whereby there was a period and you have to go on dry dock during this period. He added: “If you have a situation where you going on dry dock because you have to go on dry dock regardless of the circumstances somebody has erred somewhere.”

London said what the public of Tobago must know was that one of the reasons that “we find ourselves in this precarious position, where during the time of the year where the demand for travel is highest and Tobagonians and guest-house owners and so on are looking forward to the influx of visitors from Trinidad,  one of the reasons why we have only one ferry travelling between Tobago and Trinidad and all the consequences of that – the economic and other consequences of that, is because of the fact that  for seven to eight months there was no Port Authority Board”.

He said there was no decision to be taken and that was one of the reasons why the ferry could not have gone on dry dock at a more reasonable time, adding that if it doesn’t go sometime between now and the end of the month in any case it would not be able to sail.

He said this was bad planning and bad planning that stemmed from the fact that there was nobody around to do the planning.  He said it was in the context he also wanted to highlight the fact that on a Board as critical to Tobago’s development as the Port Authority that the Central Government was so petty that it has refused to allow for a nomination from the Tobago House of Assembly.

London stressed that there was nothing wrong with putting a Tobagonian on the Board. “You can put as many Tobagonians as you wish, but in a situation where the Tobago House of Assembly by Law is responsible for certain aspects of development, it is only good sense that will allow you to ensure that its view is represented. You will get your way because you have a majority on the Board in any case but at least the input from the Assembly will assist the process,” he said.

London said he was a little concerned about the decision by Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner to utilise the water taxis on the Tobago route from April 11. “I’m no expert; but my information is that the water taxis cannot handle adequately, waves above 1.5 meters and therefore there are two problems that I have here, one is the problem of predictability.”

He said if the waves were over 1.5 meters then it was unlikely that the water taxis would make the trip at all and even if they were less than 1.5 meters what was the quality of the ride that passengers were going to get.

He said it was going to be little bit difficult to carry them back to the ‘vomit- commit’ era and hoped that the relevant research had been done and that this was a technical rather than a political decision.

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