Shadow Transport Minister Pat Gordon Pamplin responded to the Transport Minister Walter Roban, who yesterday [July 11] defended the ferry system and said: “Public criticism by the opposition is nothing more than an attempt to score cheap political points without offering any solutions.”
Ms Gordon Pamplin said, “With reference to the Minister’s statement, he acknowledges that the ferries have been over-used and under-maintained, yet he has the temerity to accuse the Opposition of scoring cheap political points.
“He asks for solutions. We regret that the Minister and the government are bereft of ideas but, in this instance we offer the obvious solution – allocate the money to fix the ferries!
“The Public criticism of which he speaks is just that, criticism from the travelling public. At no point is anyone criticizing the crew and the mechanics of the Department of Marine and Ports. They are doing their best with the meager funding that they have been afforded by a government who squandered the public purse on cost overruns and poorly managed capital projects.
“I took the Rockaway 5:20 ferry on Tuesday (July 10) and noted that the ramp had not been fixed – in fact it was held up by a rope. This is after the Minister indicated in Parliament on Friday July 6, that the ramp had been fixed. He intentionally misled the House and the public.
“As I sat on the ferry waiting for it to leave the pier in Hamilton, I thought I would pass out from the extreme heat, as the air conditioning was not working,” continued Ms Gordon Pamplin.
“The crew did have the presence of mind to leave the doors open so that once the ferry started motoring towards Rockaway, the cool breeze helped to improve the stifling heat. The passengers did disembark on the side ramp onto the pier, where some of the railings are loose and are an accident waiting to happen.
“I also had the chance to speak to the crew, who expressed concern that while the air conditioning is not working, imagine what it is like for 200+ tourists getting on at Dockyard and until the boat hits the open sea, they are sucking for air as the heat is unbearable.
“The addition of a space air conditioner in the wheel house is a good fix as we cannot afford for the pilots to be overcome by the heat while they are commanding a vessel full of passengers.
“Rather than try to deflect the blame to everyone else but where it belongs, we need to just fix the ferries. In that way, the crew will not have to be on the receiving end of the ire of the travelling public. It is not fair to them.
“The Minister might also spend a voyage or two with the very professional crew and might be totally enlightened concerning their recommendations for efficiencies in the service. They are the experts, and should be listened to,” concluded Ms Pamplin Gordon.
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