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Caribe Sun docked at Heritage Quay, Antigua

Conflict Over Abandoned Guests Could Sour Ferry Contract Negotiations

A decision by Captain Jason Bethel not to wait for several official guests of the Government of Montserrat on Sunday, April 3, 2016 could further sour pending contract renewal negotiations.

Montserrat is hosting the 28th meeting of the Council of CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) this week.

On Sunday, numerous delays and cancellations by LIAT and other regional and international carriers made a number of the invited guests late for their flights and the ferry.

According to Hon. Minister Claude Hogan, under which the meetings fall, the Caribe Sun ferry operator had been notified that the flights were late and requested an hour extension to 7PM for the passengers to arrive. This was granted, however several of the CARICOM officials, including the chairman of CROSQ who needed to be at the Monday morning meeting were left behind.

Both Hogan and Hon. Premier Romeo were noticeably upset by the decision of the captain to leave them behind and also the way in which the CROSQ official was spoken to. The officials were brought over by plane on Monday morning to make the official opening ceremony.

The contract to supply ferry service to the island is currently under negotiation as the last one ended on March 31, 2016. An interim agreement was put in place to handle inter-island ferry service until the 6th of April at a day rate of US$8500.

Captain Bethel told Discover Montserrat that the ferry left Antigua at 7:40PM, forty minutes later than the scheduled time. He noted that the vessel had already been given clearance to travel by Immigration and Customs and they were unwilling to grant a further extension to change the documents to add a new passenger, which would have caused a further delay of more than 30 minutes. Already more than 40 passengers had checked in and were waiting for the ferry to leave Antigua.

The captain said he was not rude to any of the officials but explained they had already passed the scheduled departure time and had missed the cut off time for check in. The standard ferry check in time is 90 minutes before the scheduled time.