By : JOHN MARINO
Edition: August 4, 2011 | Volume: 39 | No: 30
Transportation chief hopes for deal to be complete before year’s end
The Maritime Transportation Authority (MTA) is slated to release at any time an invitation for bid to the private sector for the operation and maintenance of the ferries between Fajardo and the municipalities of vieques and Culebra.
Transportation Secretary Rubén Hernández Gregorat told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS he was putting final touches on a draft proposal and expected to release it early this month so a private operator could be in place before year-end.
"It will run like the Urban Train. The assets and vessels will belong to the government, while the operation and maintenance of those vessels will be done by the private sector," Hernández said.
"By October or November, if everything goes according to process, we should have a contract for a private operator supporting the maintenance and operations of the ferries," he added.
While the government believes private operation and support can substantially improve the service between the east-coast municipality and island municipalities, it will continue to administer the operations of the ferries running between Old San Juan and Hato Rey and Cataño for the immediate future, according to the Transportation chief.
"The city ferries are a smaller operation and, at the moment, we are just thinking about maintaining their operation with the government. In the future, any opportunity to improve service and efficiency will be looked at and, if that includes private operation, it will be considered," Hernández said.
Ferry service between the island municipalities and Fajardo has been shoddy for years, but last year a lack of maintenance sparked breakdowns that caused major service interruptions that had an impact on residents and businesses.
Last weekend, the cargo ferry El Isleño was put in dry dock for maintenance after failing a Coast Guard inspection.
An investment of $77.1 million in terminal improvements and new vessels, funded largely through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, has improved the situation.Plans for private administration of the ferries first surfaced last September when a Public-Private Partnerships Authority initiative was announced to improve transportation service between Fajardo and the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra as one of four potential projects for development through a public-private partnership.
And if that isn't enough brain stimulation for you, I'm very excited that here at Camp Humboldt I have made my first sage smudge stick. Am I cool or what? Yes I am! Because I didn't need to use string, like other boys and girls do, I used bamboo leaves! They work, too (not working would mean they'd burn like mad and the sage would fall apart, another unfolding if you will). But it all burns evenly - and best, does what I intended, makes mosquitoes FLEE!! I'm waiting for my badge, Elijah says if I keep my cabin neat and start making the coffee, I might get one. Ok, he didn't say that at all. But maybe he wants to say it.
These two photos are for all of those people who keep hoping that something sane is going to happen with our leadership in government. I salute you! You know who you are.
What does this have to do with hope? Too many answers. Choose yours!
Have a free range Friday! Do something foodie (and maybe I'll come back later today with something food-wise too)