Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has given a commitment to the Tobago business community to fix their problems once and for all.
“He did give his commitment that the problems that we are facing now will be fixed, and will be fixed once and for all, as the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago,” Tobago Chamber chairman Demi John Cruickshank said following a meeting with the prime minister at the home of businessman James Morshead in Mt Pleasant.
The meeting included the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, officials of the Tobago Chamber, president of the Hotel and Tourism Association in Tobago Chris James, officials of the Truckers Association and other tourism stakeholders.
The Express observed officials, including the prime minister, exiting the home of the businessman, in addition to Rowley's private security detail.
The meeting, which started just after noon, concluded shortly before 3 p.m.
The media were not invited to this meeting as it was a private and closed-door one. However, Cruickshank told the Express the prime minister was supposed to make a statement on the way forward, where the transportation of cargo between Tobago and Trinidad is concerned.
“At this point in time we in the private sector await the prime minister's response. He will make an official statement, an official response on the whole matter of the inter-island cargo situation,” Cruickshank said.
He said the prime minister also made a commitment to the Tobago Chamber.
Cruickshank said the prime minister will be requesting a report from the newly-installed Port Authority board on its proposals and the recommendations in terms of a suitable replacement for the Super-Fast Galicia. “So after that he will be in a better position to make an overall statement,” Cruickshank added.
And on the possible issue of a barge, he said, “Well, we can't say anything on that. What he would have done is that he would have met with us, it was a very open meeting, and all options are on the table from his point of view. The Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago will review all the options, they will now make a statement.”
The Express caught up with the prime minister at the Mt Pleasant Goat and Crab races, but he preferred not to comment on the matter. “I will not be commenting on the meeting with the chamber, but instead wish to enjoy the goat races and my Easter,” Rowley said.
Charles: Government is committed to Tobago
THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, when asked to comment on the meeting, said it essentially was a conversation with a few stakeholders. “The prime minister underscored the Government's commitment to ensure that the service to Tobago is maintained at an acceptable level during the period of the departure of the Galicia and the selection of an appropriate replacement. The new board is expected to evaluate the responses to the tender expeditiously so as to minimise the period of transition,” Charles said.
The Galicia, a 13-year-old vessel which principally transports cargo between Trinidad and Tobago daily, began its inter-island ferry service on July 7, 2014. Its final voyage on the seabridge will be on Friday.
No food shortage
Meanwhile, Cruickshank debunked any notion of a food shortage in Tobago, saying he has not received such reports from the business community in Tobago.
This was contrary to claims of a food shortage made by Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader Watson Duke on Sunday.
“Well, at this point in time, we at the chamber have not had that information. From our position, we are not seeing that there is a shortage or even any crisis where food is concerned at this point today, in Tobago,” Cruickshank said.