In T&T: Fast ferry service coming to Eastern Caribbean

27 January 2012

Commuter and goods ferry on the way, “minimum capital start up of US$12 million was required for the service.”

A fast ferry service for the Eastern Caribbean is to be established, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj announced yesterday.

Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Maharaj said the company managing the service, Fast Caribbean Ltd, has agreed to provide 100,000 seats per year at a special price of US$10 a ticket but the average price for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago would be between US$25 and US$35 a seat.

The ferry will also carry goods.

Maharaj said a Cabinet appointed team is in negotiations with the company to set up the ferry service.

He stressed though that the initiative was a private sector one and that Government would be putting no cash in the service.

“This fast ferry proposal which the team would be reviewing proposes to launch the service in 2012 and it would be headquartered in Port of Spain,” he said.

Phase one of the service will offer trips to the islands of Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Barbados.

“Fast Caribbean Ltd, Barbados-based consortium, will charter from owners Montrose Global a 112-metre wave piercing catamaran similar to those operating on the Trinidad and Tobago route,” Maharaj said.

He said a minimum capital start up of US$12 million was required for the service.

But he noted that the private sector team was proposing to raise some US$20 million.

“What the government is contributing to this is forming part of the negotiations. It includes how they would like to see our fuel price locked in at a particular rate, facilities at the Port Authority, requests in terms of fuel and lubricant duties and tariffs, corporate tax concessions. The government of Trinidad and Tobago is facilitating. We are not putting in any cash,” Maharaj said.

The catamarans would leave the Port of Port of Spain at 6 a.m. and arrive in Barbados (the last stop on its route) at 6 p.m.

Maharaj said once commercial viability is achieved in phase one of the project, additional routes will be added. Foreign Affairs Minister Surujrattan Rambachan said the ferry would help promote tourism, while Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz said it would bring cheaper freight charges for businesses in the region.

Government first announced its intention to have a ferry service linking Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean in September 2011 and invited proposals from suitable investors in October 2011.

Five companies responded and Fast Ferry Caribbean Ltd was selected. The Cabinet appointed team charged with reviewing the company’s proposals comprises the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, the CEO of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, a representative of the Ministry of Finance and a representative of the Ministry of Attorney General.


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