Tough call: Chief Sec weighs cancelling cruise ship’s arrival on Sunday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oil on the surface of the water in Scarborough. – THA

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says the THA and other stakeholders are still deciding on whether or not a cruise ship, scheduled to arrive in Tobago on February 11, should be allowed to dock at the Scarborough port.

He said given the ongoing efforts to contain an oil spill, which has already affected several coastal villages and much of the Scarborough waterfront, it may not be practical.

The oil spill was caused by a mystery boat which was found overturned 200m off the coast in Cove on Wednesday.

“We are having discussions about a cruise ship that is expected at the Scarborough port on Sunday with over 3,000 visitors. So that is a massive undertaking,” he told reporters at the Scarborough Lay-By on February 9.

“The question we are asking ourselves is if we should cancel or whether we should send them a nice note and say the land of oil and natural gas is overflowing unexpectedly and we will need to take you a bit further afield to enjoy the beauty of the island. We are weighing that.”

Augustine said experts from the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd are guiding them in the discussion.

He said Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young and Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan visited Tobago briefly on February 9 to get a first-hand account of the damage caused by the oil spill and to see what assistance was needed.

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, right, and TEMA director Allan Stewart oversee clean-up operations after an oil spill in Tobago. – THA

“Because the State needs to assist in fixing this,” Augustine said.

He said representatives from the Ministry of Energy were also expected to tour the affected coastline.

“We are looking at approximately 15km of coastline that is damaged. The Coast Guard is on the island already but another vessel is preparing to come up with additional booms and implements that is needed.”

Augustine said a boom was retained to protect the assets at the Scarborough Port on February 8.

“Had we not done that then the inter-island ferry would have had to be cancelled over the weekend.”

He said they were also expecting to get skimmers to separate the oil from the water.

“We have to use some long-arm equipment to be able to get the things off the shoreline because the truth is that most of our service providers don’t want sea water on their vessels, so some are refusing to actually do the work. But we will get what is necessary to have this area cleaned.”