Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to be among officials in Tobago welcoming the new ferry “APT James” after its first trip to the sister island tomorrow.
The vessel which leaves Trinidad on Thursday morning is expected in Tobago by midday. This was confirmed by the Minister of Works and Transport and other Government officials.
It was due to enter service before the Jean De La Valette ferry leaves Trinidad and Tobago when that vessel’s contract expires month-end.
The “APT James” arrived in this country recently after its journey from Vietnam where it was constructed by Australia’s Austal company. Another new passenger ferry, the “Buccoo Reef”, built by the Incat firm, is also coming to TT next month.
Rowley’s expected appearance follows his January 9 angioplasty at West Shore Medical Private Hospital. After his discharge on January 10, Rowley who’s currently Caricom chairman hosted a virtual Caricom meeting on January 11.
While he has kept a low profile publicly, officials said the Prime Minister has been working.
Cabinet will meet today and Rowley is expected to fly to Tobago later today where he will also be appearing at PNM Tobago meetings tonight and tomorrow for next Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly, PNM officials confirmed.
Yesterday in the Senate, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the 94 metres long “APT James” cost a total (US)$71.48 million.
The “Buccoo Reef “ which is 100 metres long cost a total of (US)$72,977 million.
Imbert said the credit agreement arranged with Australia on the financing of the vessels (and for two Coast Guard patrol vessels costing US $91.5m ) covers 80 per cent of the total costs.
The “James” is an Austal Auto Express catamaran. The crew which brought the vessel to TT had to undergo two weeks of quarantine after making the 30 day trip to this country.
The Works Ministry recently dismissed Opposition concerns about the boat – but admitted certain “minor” issues were attended to when the vessel was in Malta recently. The Minister of Works said these issues had nothing to do with the vessel’s stability.
The Tobago Chamber has welcomed the new ferry, saying it is a boost to the island’s economy.