The APT James.

Shastri Boodan

Assistant Secretary of Tourism and Transportation in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Megan Morrison is questioning why the T&T Inter-Island Ferry Service is keeping passengers out of seats located in the front of the Buccoo Reef and the APT James.

Morrison is calling on the authorities to make the seats available to commuters.

Morrison told Guardian Media that she too was blanked entry when she travelled on the boat, saying the staff on the boat claimed that is a VIP area.

Morrisson said with the prevalence of COVID-19 and with more people wanting to travel to Tobago for the upcoming Easter vacation period, the authorities should rethink this plan.

Michael Knaggs, a commuter who travels weekly on the ferry, said he too was very upset.

“You have social distance to buy tickets but inside the boat, the seats are for staff,” Knaggs said.

Knaggs added there is a floor plan for emergency evacuation on the car deck of the new boat but none on the passenger area.

He said some of the toilets are off-limits to passengers.

To compound the problem, he said the toilets were closed 20 minutes before the boat docks without the staff informing commuters.

NIDCO, the company managing the operation of the ferries responded to Guardian Media via email saying, “The VIP areas of both the Buccoo Reef and the APT James are not open to the general public at this time because the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Transport Company Limited (TTIT) has not yet finalised arrangements for the use of this area. NIDCO further added that all passenger ferries, including those operating on the inter-island sea bridge, are in full compliance with international standards for passenger safety, including the provision of exit and other safety signs as well as emergency lighting.