Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi Delgado ||//
Tempers flare at port

Tempers flared as hundreds of passengers and truckers who had confirmed tickets for two sailings on Tuesday were up to yesterday left stranded at the Port-of-Spain Ferry Terminal, with no word when they will depart to Tobago.

Also passengers who had purchased tickets for yesterday?s voyage were put on standby for several hours, which led to staff at the Port Authority of T&T being verbally abused and almost ending in blows.

The situation became chaotic, as angry and frustrated passengers openly voiced their displeasure at the poor sea bridge service, which resulted in losses of thousands of dollars in perishable goods, great inconvenience and passengers sleeping in their vehicles.

It also led to the Port Authority of T&T putting up 75 stranded passengers and crew in a guest house on Tuesday night, which will cost the authority approximately $25,000.

However, at 1.45 pm yesterday, PATT chairman Alison Lewis confirmed that the T&T Express left Trinidad, while the T&T Spirit which was on sea trial was scheduled to leave at 4 pm.

Diabetic patient Sheriff Mohammed said he arrived at the port around 2 am yesterday for a noon sailing, but was told that he had to wait, as Tuesday?s passengers who had been waiting for more than 24 hours, would be given priority.

There were two sailings on Tuesday at 6.30 am and 4 pm, which were cancelled.

Also the T&T Express which was scheduled to leave the port at 6.30 am yesterday never sailed, which resulted in a back up of passengers.

?Right now I on standby because what they doing is dealing with yesterday?s passengers while today?s passengers have to hold strain. Eleven hours I waiting in this terminal and the port is not communicating with passengers. Everybody vex like hell,? Mohammed complained.

Mohammed, who had a paid ticket in hand was supposed to join his family in Tobago for a vacation, but felt he would have to change his plans.

Tobagonian Nelson Richard sat on a chair in the waiting bay for nine hours yesterday, hoping to sail at 12 noon on the T&T Spirit to attend a funeral in Tobago, but was put on hold.

?The funeral is tomorrow and I don?t know if I will make it.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
What more could go wrong with this inter-island ferry service? It?s just one thing after the other with these vessels.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
This is madness. There should be a back up plan to avoid occurrences like these,? a visibly upset Richard said.

At 10 am yesterday, an announcement on the terminal?s PA system advised drivers and truckers with confirmed tickets to make their way to the Atlantic Provider, which left at noon.

Minutes later, another announcement advised passengers with confirmed tickets for Tuesday?s sailings to have a seat and wait further instructions.

Etched on the face of Natasha Moore was worry and frustration, having loss $11,000 in produce due to spoilage.

Moore said the perishable items remained in her closed panel van for over 40 hours and wilted under the intense heat.

?Who is going to compensate me for this loss,? Moore asked.

Bethel resident Girly Erna said she had been waiting at the port for 36 hours to go back home.

Having arrived at the terminal at 2 am on Tuesday, Erna had a confirmed 6 am ticket, but when she got on board the T&T Spirit, the boat started to malfunction and she along with other passengers had to come off.

The T&T Express also did not make its 4pm sailing as a result of mechanical problems.

Erna took lodging at a relative?s home and returned 2 am yesterday for the 6.30 am voyage, but remained stuck at the terminal for several hours.

?We have two vessels and none ain?t working good.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
That making any sense?

?I saw passengers who had no place to go sleeping in their vehicles outside.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
Passengers really suffered,? she said.

Josephine Clarke-Noel, 84, was one of 75 passengers who was taken to Alicia?s Guest House, Port-of-Spain by PATT to spend the night.

Clarke-Noel said before they were transported to the guest house they were served sandwiches at the terminal.

?This morning we got a nice breakfast before coming here.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
I want to commend the port for accommodating us in our darkest hour,? Clarke-Noel said.

Affected passenger Carla Herbert said for two vessels to be down was a horrible position for the PATT to be in.

?If you are in the business of governance make sure that your sea bridge service…your lifeline…

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi
do not become a political football,? Herbert said.


© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

Tags: Isla