PORT OF SPAIN –– Almost 800 passengers were stuck aboard the T&T Express in the waters off Scarborough, Tobago, for more than four hours today. A similar number of passengers had to wait to board the T&T Spirit that was docked at the Scarborough Port that had a 6:30 a.m departure time.
It was only at around 1:30 p.m. that the T&T Express was able to dock after the T&T Spirit had left.
The reason for the delay was given as a problem with the ramp at the port. However, Minister of Transport Steven Cadiz said there were also reports the issue had arisen by “industrial action”.
Cadiz said he had asked that the Port Authority launch an investigation into the reports.
The passengers aboard the T&T Express were expected to be in Tobago by 9:30 a.m.
Instead, these passengers ended up stuck out at sea, and passengers due to board the T&T Spirit were not allowed to enter the port in their vehicles to drive aboard the ferry.
Earleir today, Cadiz told the Express: “There is a situation in Tobago where the T&T Spirit should have left Tobago this morning. They [port officials] have informed me that there is some problem with the ramp and they can’t get the ramp up to be able to sail. It is something the port is working on now.
“However we do have a situation with the Express . . . . One leaves Tobago at 6:20 a.m. one leaves Port of Spain at 6:30 a.m.; so they cross on the way. But the Express did its sailing, arrived in Tobago and could not dock because the Spirit was on the berth where the ferries dock.”
Cadiz said: “It is a situation we are working with to see how best we can get it sorted out. The port authority is working at getting this thing rectified; so I hope that in short order the sailings would be back to normal.We are trying to determine from the chief engineer on the ferry exactly what is the problem with the ramp.”
And a sailing that was expected to take place from Port of Spain at 1:30 p.m. will not be able to take place since both boats were in Tobago, Cadiz said.
He added: “Once the sailings are not met, if you don’t keep to the schedules, then it upsets everything. When you have 800 persons, that is probably the full capacity of the airbridge in any one day. It is more than the airbridge would carry in one day; so it is very difficult when we have a situation like this.
“There is no other plan really. The airbridge cannot replace the sea-bridge nor can the sea-bridge really and truly replace the airbridge Both of them work in parallel. When one is affected it really creates a a major problem for people.”