May 13, 2021

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New problems in cargo haulage to Vieques and Culebra are reported

Viequenses and Culebrenses once again face problems with the maritime transportation system, since the two ships destined for cargo transportation, Mr. Mason and the barge Marilin S., had problems with their respective landing ramps.

The problems with both vessels occur just hours after the governor Pedro Pierluisi hold a meeting with the mayors of Vieques and Culebra, José A. “Junito” Corcino and Edilberto Romero, respectively. Both mayors will ask the chief executive for new vessels to deal with the age-old problem of the inefficiency of maritime transport.

“There is a problem. Until an hour ago, there was a cable from the barge ramp that had broken. The same thing happened with Mr. Mason that the motor cable of the ramp broke ”, said Corcino.

The mayor today sent a letter to the new director of the Maritime Transport Authority (ATM), Jorge Droz, in which he asks for “specific and detailed information” on the status of all vessels.

“I remind you that today we have a fragile transportation system, which today is failing us again. We are tired of so many promises and we do not see solutions. I would like to know what alternative plans the ATM has in the face of this situation that the residents of both islands and municipalities are experiencing ”, reads the letter from the mayor.

The new day requested and awaits a response from the ATM regarding the problems facing the ships.

Fed up with promises

Meanwhile, the mayor of Culebra told this media that they expect “permanent solutions” from the central government.

“Of course we do, we need a permanent solution. The only thing is that they bring new ferries. It is the only way ”, affirmed Romero.

He stressed that these new ferries must join the Santa María, Cayo Largo, El Isleño and Isla Bonita vessels that are currently undergoing repairs. The ATM has not specified when it will incorporate these ships into the fleet that today is of private vessels. The ATM rents the Mr. Mason and Julia Lee boats from Puerto Rico Fast Ferries. Two other vessels were leased to the HMS Ferries company, which was granted the public private alliance (APP) to manage the maritime transport to Vieques –Culebra and San Juan Cataño.

Both mayors have expressed their dissatisfaction with the rental of these ships to HMS Ferries and, even more, their skepticism that an APP is the solution for the maritime transport service.

Romero did not want to discuss expectations with the governor’s meeting. “We need to see,” he said.

Demonstration this Wednesday

Although the residents of both islands municipalities still do not have a shortage of supplies, they do not doubt that they may have them.

“The supplies that should have come today could not arrive and that barge takes five hours to travel. The merchants are not supplied ”, highlighted the Viequense leader Carmen Valencia.

In March, the governor activated the National Guard to bring supplies to Vieques and Culebra after the ATM service collapsed. It has not been reported if the National Guard has been deactivated, but the journey of its ships is delayed. Each trip to Isla Nena takes approximately two hours and to Culebra two and a half hours.

“The problem is that the supply may be scarce or there may be, but we cannot plan anything. We are bound by the instability of decades. But this time it has been worse than ever. We are filling our mouths that we are going to put an end to this, ”said Culebra leader Lourdes Feliciano.

He added that as the problem with maritime transport continues, Viequenses and Culebrenses will hold a demonstration in the vicinity of the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Again to demand our rights,” he said.

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