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Galleons Passage weeks away from service
The Galleons Passage is finally here but it will be another two to three weeks before it is servicing the seabridge, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said during a debut tour of the vessel yesterday.
The vessel docked at the Port of Port-of-Spain around 11 pm on Monday – a nine-hour delay from the initial estimated time of 2 pm. The National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) said “strong currents” forced the crew to reduce the vessel’s speed.
Imbert, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and NIDCO chairman Herbert George led a contingent of ministry and Port Authority of T&T officials and media personnel on a detailed tour of the vessel from its engine room to its bridge.
Imbert said the “most difficult challenge” now was assembling a crew.
“We have already engaged a ship manager who brought it from China and he is the one who is now assisting in assembling a crew. The biggest challenge is mobilising a crew, but it’s already in progress,” Imbert said.
He said there could be a further delay for the vessel to be put on the seabridge but “barring unforeseen circumstances” they were hoping to deal with final refurbishing issues in two to three weeks and get in on the seabridge thereafter.
“Again, we never know what would happen with the Ferry Terminal (referring to ongoing dredging works) and the Port Authority because they are the ones dealing with this…but it should be complete in two weeks and in the interim the boat will be berth here (Cruise Ship Complex, Port of PoS),” Imbert said.
Once servicing the seabridge, Sinanan said the vessel, which accommodates 600 passengers in its main cabin, 100 more on its sundeck, along with 100 vehicles, will take an estimated four-and-a-half hours on the journey to Tobago.
However, Imbert explained that the Galleons Passage was initially purchased for servicing the Toco Port to Scarborough Port route when Government completes the Toco port project. Sinanan added that its voyage estimate time from there would be about 90 minutes.
Asked how soon construction will start on the Toco Port and how much it will cost, Imbert replied: “Barring unforeseen circumstances and lawsuits, because you know Trinidadians like to sue, construction should begin next year, 2019…$700 million.”
Sinanan said the Toco Port is already in its designing stages.
“We are in negotiations with the EMA to have all approvals…once that is done tenders will go out. The road is in the stage of full designing and we expect to see something happening there shortly,” Sinanan said.
Imbert added that by the time the Toco Port is completed the Galleons Passage will be re-located there along with an additional vessel similar to it.
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