Vital link between sister islands at risk

Cargo boats, such as the MV Concorde (above), rely on the River Wharf dock too and their services could also be jeopardised. (Rory Butler/OBSERVER Media)
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ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A vital link between the sister islands of Barbuda and Antigua is at risk after nearly a decade of neglect to the River Wharf dock in Barbuda.

Captain Greg Urlwin, who has run the Barbuda Express ferry for over eight and half years, said he is poised to pull the plug on the ferry’s operations at any moment.

“I am surprised that it hasn’t already happened, that the ferry hasn’t already been cancelled,” said Urlwin.

Urlwin said constant damage sustained to his boat because of the poor state of the dock and the threat of a lawsuit should a passenger get injured are becoming too big to bear.

“We are constantly getting damage to the boat from the wharf, the depth of the water underneath it, and things breaking and floating off it,” Urlwin said.

The majority of Barbudans rely on the ferry service to get between the two islands and many tourists use the service. Urlwin said any stop would be “disastrous” for Barbuda. Cargo boats, such as the MV Concorde, rely on the River Wharf dock too and their services could also be in jeopardy

The ferry captain warned that his company would not be the only one to suffer should someone get injured at the dock and decide to sue for damages.

“If someone was injured they wouldn’t just come after us, they would come after the central government and the Port Authority and the Barbuda Council, anybody who is responsible for the state of this thing, everybody would get sued, not just us,” Urlwin said.

The Barbuda Express captain said he has tried to find a way to protect himself from the looming threat of a lawsuit but can’t find a way out.

The authorities have committed that funds are available to repair the River Wharf dock in Barbuda and that repairs will begin this month.

However, Barbudans say after nearly a decade of promises they won’t believe anyone’s word until they see the work is done.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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