Montserrat Ferry MV Caribe in impasse with GoM

| April 18, 2016

It’s been called ‘Fiasco’ and ‘Impasse’ as the events of last Friday morning of ‘All Fools Day’’ opened with the news of passengers became stranded at Little Bay, some of whom were travelling to Antigua to make onward connections. Many of these, passengers who stayed longer following their participation in the St. Patrick’s Day/Week celebrations.

First news was that the captain of the Ferry MV Caribe Sun had said he would not set sail until he had an agreement going on since there was no contract in place, the latest one having expired the night before on March 3, 2016.

Following an acknowledgement that there was no contract in place, later discovered to have been or should have been in place, TMR was informed that efforts beginning since Wednesday for an interim agreement had been met with refusals of the vessel’s owners for discussion with the Premier who had then taken on a matter that had evolved into a crisis.

Confirmation came later that day that arrangements were made prior to the ferry eventually sailing at about 2.00 p.m. that day, for passengers making onward connections in Antigua to be airlifted to Antigua by flights from SVG Air and Fly Montserrat.

In addition information was provided of an agreement made between the GoM and CARIBE TRANSPORT LTD. (CTL) to continue operating at a new charge of US,500.00 per day for five or six days as against the previous charge of US,000.00 per day.

MV Caribe. Photo courtesy

MV Caribe. Photo courtesy

Then ensued the questions as to how it was possible for a contract as important as one involving this major mode of transport in and out of Montserrat is not in place as required some time before March 31, 2016.

In an interview with Premier Romeo he informs of his many discussions with the Ministry of Communications and Works and Labour (MCWL) to get a contract in place as they prepared to move to obtain a ferry which would offer the Government the possibility of owning outright or on a lease-purchase arrangement.

The Premier informed of several other factors beyond matters which came up for questioning in the Legislative Assembly where the Minister denied knowledge of activities to investigate the possibilities of obtaining a ferry. He said that the Minister disagreed with the personnel and timing, but not the idea; and was a part of a full number of the six elected government members, and officials who discussed the matter.

The result however, on the continuance of the services of the MV Caribe Sun ground to a permanent halt, according to the Premier when they refused to agree further offers for any interim involvement in an extension of the concluded contract.

The GoM moved then to engage the airlines servicing Montserrat, using the subsidy being used for the ferry services causing a reduction in travel to Antigua. The new fare became $400.00 return excluding any tax. The return ferry fare was $300.00 plus applicable departure and other taxes.

The logistics were put in place but naturally problems developed especially for passengers who held prior purchased ferry tickets, as the airlines took time to put in place how they would collect if they accepted those tickets as part payment for travel.

The loss of the ferry service would as expected be burdensome for the ardent ferry traveler who travel to Antigua and stay over for longer than 24 hours compared to the traveler who is traveling same day on connecting flights.

Whereas any one flying to Antigua previously and staying over would have paid in total, taxes included approximately $850.00, making the most expensive 20 minute plane ride, the same traveller would now pay according to some calculations $637.50. Of course there is the additional burden of baggage allowances which were practically non-existent on the ferry.

There was as a result of this new burdensome development the information confirmed that the ferry subsidy which allowed passengers to pay the base fee of $300.00, if passengers were to pay the full cost as they would pay an airline that fare would cost $495.00 ONE WAY on the ferry. Article written by: Bennette Roach; courtesy

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Category: African Caribbean, Culture & Society, How Caribbean R U?, Montserrat

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