Statement by Hon. Premier on Ferry Operations
STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE PREMIER, MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND CULTURE, DONALDSON ROMEO
Fellow citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat;
The one-year ferry contract with Caribe Transport Limited, came to an end on Thursday March 31st, 2016. Without a new ferry contract in place, an agreement was made with Caribe Transport Limited to continue the ferry services for five more days ending April 6th, 2016.
This gave the Government of Montserrat the opportunity to further negotiate the terms of the ferry service.
A meeting was held with a representative from Caribe Transport Limited on Monday April 4th, 2016 in an effort to come to an agreement to continue ferry services for as along as it takes, to allow for the necessary procedures to be followed. Terms could not be agreed and so as of Thursday April 6th, 2016 ferry service with Caribe Transport Limited will end.
Over the past few days, I focused on an immediate to short term solution to this impasse and advised my technicians to work with our local airlines SVG Air and Fly Montserrat, to provide coverage for access to secure regular passenger service, day tours and some cargo services between Montserrat and Antigua.
The subsidy used for the ferry will be redirected to support the airlines, therefore as of Thursday morning April 7th, 2016, there will be significant reduction on airfares to and from Montserrat. All airfares will be at the same subsidized rate of EC$400.
We anticipate that this arrangement will only be necessary for a short time and have started the process of putting in place an interim ferry service followed by a more permanent solution. In doing so we shall adhere to procurement rules and ensure that an efficient ferry service is available, which will provide value for money to the people of Montserrat.
In addition, I have taken the decision to transfer access from the Ministry of Communications and Works, to the Office of the Premier. Consequently, access will compliment tourism, and be positioned along with customs and immigration within the Premier’s remit.
All new arrangements now being set in place, will be monitored and managed on a daily basis to ensure that the needs of all of our passengers, along with all stakeholders are met. As I said last week, I will continue to do what is needed to take this Island forward in a transparent, organized and fair manner, without compromise.
Fellow citizens and residents of Montserrat, I will continue to serve in the best interest of the people of Montserrat.
May God Bless you and may God Bless Montserrat.