After more than two hours of meeting, the mayor of Vieques, José “Junito” Corcino left this afternoon unsatisfied from a meeting with the governor Pedro Pierluisi in which he was informed that in mid-May they will have four additional vessels available to attend to the deficient maritime transport system to the municipality islands.
“Supposedly they are like some types of ferries that are going to bring passengers and cargo, but they are other boats (different from those owned by the Maritime Transport Authority, ATM). I am not pleased because, the truth is, we need ferries that have enough capacity in terms of cargo and passengers “Corcino said upon his departure from La Fortaleza and at a time when maritime transport, particularly cargo, is once again facing problems.
Since Sunday, the ATM has had problems with two ships destined for cargo hauling, Mr. Mason and the barge Marilin S. Both are rented and their respective landing ramps have broken down. At press time, it was reported that Mr. Mason’s ramp was repaired, but that of the barge would be used manually, although they were waiting for a trailer to be able to use the ship.
Faced with this picture, Viequenses and Culebrenses are preparing to hold a demonstration this Wednesday in the vicinity of the Capitol.
“That barge takes five hours to travel. The merchants are not supplied ”, highlighted the Viequense leader Carmen Valencia.
The four ships that will be added to the fleet, three for cargo and passengers and one for passengers only, will be acquired by the company HMS Ferries, which was awarded the public-private alliance (APP) to manage the maritime transport service. informed the director of the ATM, Jorge Droz, who participated in the meeting and answered questions from the press with evident haste.
“The privatization company (HMS Ferries) is going to bring those four boats. They are used boats, similar to the ones we have right now ”, said Droz without being able to specify the cost, although he assured that it is part of the contract with the private company.
The transaction with the privatizer was for $ 750.9 million, and the contract will be valid for 23 years, from October 27, 2020 until that same date in 2043.
Droz looked confused and contradictory when he said that the boats that HMS Ferries would bring were “in design”, although they are used ships and that “until now” the boats were included in the cost of the APP transaction.
The four ships, however, are the same as two that the ATM already leases to HMS Ferries and that according to the mayors do not meet the needs of Viequenses and Culebrenses because they can only carry light cargo and are not suitable for the strong waves of the East Side.
“These are not the boats that my island needs,” said Corcino, who does not rule out joining the demonstration on Wednesday.
The mayor of Culebra satisfied
While the mayor of SnakeEdiberto Romero, who left the meeting in a hurry because he ran out of transportation, said “we understand that we are on the right track.” He indicated that he was satisfied with the meeting because all of his questions were answered.
He added that the governor insisted that “Privatization will improve the situations of the two islands.”
“I have never been in privatizations. I cannot tell you that privatization is good because we have never participated, the municipality islands of Vieques and Culebra, in a privatization of the maritime transport system. I can tell you that the ATM system has been deficient for decades, ”said the mayor of Culebra.
The ships that HMS will bring must join Santa María, El Isleño, Isla Bonita and Cayo Largo, which are off-island in dry maintenance at Florida and Saint Tomás boathouses. These boats must be on the island between May and September, according to the ATM.
The collective “Somos Más que 100 x 35” returned to the streets to protest against the Maritime Transportation Authority (ATM). (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The demonstration took place at the Ceiba, Vieques and Culebra boat terminals. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
On this occasion, the agency did not comment on the claims of Viequenses and Culebrenses either. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
Dozens of residents of both islands arrived last Tuesday at the ATM’s offices in Santurce, and no official from the agency attended them. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The agency’s spokeswoman, Sandra Gutiérrez, assured that the new director, Jorge Droz, will meet with Viequenses and Culebrenses, but it was not indicated when it would be. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The residents of the islands highlighted unequal treatment by the ATM, because for this Easter it added more trips due to the arrival of tourists, a fact that does not happen in normal times to meet the needs of the residents. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
One of the residents’ complaints is the cancellation of the contract between the ATM and the HMS Ferries company. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
They also demand that the ATM pay for the arrangements for three cargo boats that are out of operation so that they can return to support the trips with supplies to Vieques and Culebra. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The residents of both islands affirm that they do not know the new director Jorge Droz and that the official has not approached him to open communication channels. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
Viequenses and Culebrenses gave the ATM an ultimatum to resolve the crisis and anticipated that the demonstrations will continue. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The first demonstrations of the collective “We are more than 100×35” began the demonstrations in the water in Culebra and then in Vieques. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
At the moment, the ATM does not have any of its vessels in operation. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)
The biggest problem in recent weeks has been the logistics to fulfill cargo trips to both islands municipality. (VANESSA SERRA DIAZ)