Ask anyone, and you can almost guarantee that the general consensus regarding the inter-island transportation between Trinidad and Tobago, be it via sea or air, is that it is nothing short of a royal nightmare!
Citizens are plagued daily by stresses of vessel breakdowns, travel-time irregularities, and all-round lamentably poor customer service.
Today, Firstline Securities Limited’s Executive Manager: Business Development, Winston Gordon, a resident of Tobago, issues (yet another) cry to the powers-that-be, laying bare the frustrations and unbearable inefficiencies which desperately require a speedy and unequivocally sustainable solution!
Who is your customer? I am!
Hey you! I am the guy that uses your service to justify your existence…your raison d’etre. Remember me? Do you recognise me? No, you don’t!
Without me you are no use, you are no good to anybody. The ferries and aircrafts you wet-lease and for which you spend millions, and perhaps billions of tax-payers US dollars over the years, is of no use to Trinidad and Tobago, its citizens and its businessmen and women, if we are not around.
Without me, you and your highly paid staff will have to go find work elsewhere at lower salaries and with less-costly collateral benefits. Have you ever considered this? No job – no compensation package.
You run your operation at a loss even though it is subsidised by taxpayers’ dollars. You operate at a less-than-satisfactory efficiency level in almost all your areas of operation. Your staff show and/or demonstrate minimum consideration for me and my fellow traveling citizens, with little or no remorse, nor an iota of guilt!
Who is your customer? I am!
Do you see and recognise me: a student when I need to travel off-island from Tobago to Trinidad to attend classes on Saturdays and/or Sundays for tertiary education, pursuing my first or second – degree under already harsh financial conditions in Trinidad. I have to find money for lodging, ground transfers, and for my return trip on Sunday evening, or early on Monday, for work in order to defray expenses.
Do you see me and recognise me as a public servant, be it the public service or the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) reporting for official duty in either, or both islands, and cannot purchase a ticket to get me to my destination for official duty?
Do you see me and recognise me as an officer of the law, a High-Court Judge, a Magistrate, a prisoner, a policeman/woman, a witness, a defendant, or even a complainant residing in either island and my matter has to be adjourned because my name has been called, and I am not there because I could not get a seat on the ferry or aircraft!?!
A seat is your stock-in-trade, but you are most times “out-of -stock” every day or most days…in season or out of season. Weekend, mid-week and long-weekend: mème-bagai!
If this business was owned and operated by businessmen, or persons with keen business acumen, they would be “smiling their way to the bank” every living day and profitably so!
Do you, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) and Caribbean Airlines (CAL) see me and recognise my challenges and the difficulties I face in getting from Tobago to Trinidad for emergency medical attention because there is no specialist health facility private or public available in Tobago?
Think of it, your compensation is guaranteed but response to your obligation to maintain an efficient, reliable, dependable and predictable service is not guaranteed.
I am your customer, but do you feel thankful for my patronage when I attempt to purchase a travel ticket as a Trucker to move goods/products from Trinidad to keep the economy buoyant? I wonder if you do, as your response is generally, “sorry, no seats available for another 14 days…you’ll have to try Stand-by!”.
I recently spent sixteen hours at the Piarco International Airport waiting on Stand-by. I placed my name on the list around 8:00 am and luckily got a Boarding Pass around 7:00 pm for a flight that left for Tobago at 11:45 pm! One word: punishing!
Who is your customer? I am!
I have been waiting for days to purchase a ticket to move construction materials to Tobago where there is construction work in progress, but no integral materials like sand, cement, wood, steel etc.
Why should it become necessary for the Prime Minister to be making apologies to the people of Tobago on behalf of the PATT? Why should it be necessary for the Chief Secretary of the THA to be begging the people of Tobago to exercise patience for problems they have been experiencing long before he assumed the position?
Mr and Mrs Seabridge and Airbridge, I am your customer!
I live in Trinidad, and I service several industries operating in Tobago. I provide goods and services to the Sister Isle. I cannot do my job without your support, but do you care?
Whether Mr. Smith ship sink or float or cross the Ocean by sea or air, everybody still gets paid and gets to go home at the end of their shift but me: Your Customer! I have no choice but to endure until you show some mercy, and your service is restored or restarted…whenever that is. Did I hear you say that you care? Well please show it.
Your Public Relations (PR) is poor. Perhaps you should hire a PR specialist and separate from the incumbent you now have on board. This dreadful service being offered is attracting the attention of the western world which has embarrassed the line Minister, the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet.
The Management teams at PATT and CAL need to wake up. Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years: your alarm clock needs to be re-wound so that the Boards, and Management teams, will rise and shine, shower, go to work and be productive with the customer as their main focus.
The recent investigative revelation by CCN/TV6’s Mark Bassant has brought forth a very damning report and a testimony to the JSC that is almost unbelievable.
The Nation is watching. The Tobago Region of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and many of its members and associates are on the brink of business collapse.
One Tobago businessman is convinced that procuring ferries and aircrafts is the easy part. The real challenge facing us is the effective management of the service which includes the scheduling; the planning for peak periods; the maintenance of equipment; the Human Resource issues; the treatment of industrial issues with the relative unions; the efficiency of the service on land at the Port/Airport, and on the sea and in the air .
I am your customer. You support me, and I will support you.