Tobago chamber hopeful about cargo transport

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Vehicles aboard the Cabo Star at the Port of Spain terminal after a sailing Scarborough. – Flie photo

The Tobago Division of the TT Chamber of Economy and Commerce is hopeful about transporting cargo to the island after a meeting with the Port Authority (PATT).

Last week, president of the chamber Curtis Williams said Tobago is suffering without the MV Cabo Star.

On August 23, there was a fire onboard the boat after it left Scarborough.

In a statement, PATT said the fire started in the engine room but was isolated and extinguished by the crew. No injuries were reported, but passengers were stranded at sea for 17 hours.

Later that day, PATT said the vessel would be towed to Port to Spain for investigation by the insurers, certification by the Maritime Services Division and repairs to the engine.

It said in the interim, cargo would be transported on three other vessels – the Buccoo Reef, the APT James and the Galleons Passage – and priority would be given to food and other perishables.

On Monday, chamber executives met with PATT, about which Williams said: “It left us with some hope. It was a very fruitful meeting. The port is more than willing to work with us.”

Head of the chamber’s interisland transport committee Demi-John Cruickshank said the solution reached was to ration how trucks were put on the three vessels.

“We’re going to work alongside the port to at least get commerce continuing. We know that there is a shortage of foodstuff on the island, there is a shortage of cement on the island, there is a shortage of feed and blocks and all these things.

“So…we’ll be doing a test run on the Galleons Passage. If the Galleons Passage can carry the trucks that we have, we would at least dedicate the Galleons Passage to carry only trucks, to help out the situation until the Cabo Star comes back on stream.”

In its latest update, PATT said repairs are still in progress, and the vessel is awaiting a shipment of electrical cables, which are not available locally, to replace those damaged by heat. The release said they had already been sourced and are expected to arrive in the country in the coming week. It added that the repairs will then continue, and the Cabo Star will be recertified to resume operations.

It said, however: “At this time the resumption date of the MV Cabo Star has not been determined.”