Barbados consortium wins regional ferry contract

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday January 27, 2012 – The Barbados-based Fast Caribbean Ltd has been selected to manage a regional ferry service scheduled to come on stream this year, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj announced Thursday.

Initially, the ferry will carry passengers, vehicles and goods from its base in Trinidad and Tobago to Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Barbados.

More routes would be added once the venture is deemed commercially viable, the minister said.

“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,” he told journalists at a post-Cabinet news conference.

“It still remains a private sector driven project based on the proposal from Fast Caribbean Ltd. They have indicated in their proposal to us the minimum capital requirement to start the service is approximately US$12 million, they propose however to raise US$20 million.”

Maharaj said a proposal has been made for 100,000 seats to be provided annually at US$10 a ticket, though nationals of Trinidad and Tobago may have to pay up to US$35.

“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,” he said.

The ferry would depart Port of Spain at 6 a.m. and arrive at its final daily destination – Barbados – at 6 p.m.

Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz suggested this service would lead to reduced regional freight cost.

“Not every shipping line goes to Grenada or St Vincent because of the volume of trade,” he noted. “It means that these islands, in getting their goods out, can in fact ship to Trinidad and then do a trans-shipment onto the larger lines.”

Cabinet approved the establishment of the inter-island ferry service last September. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)