“The World Bank study shows that a regional ferry service is viable and it is not cost prohibitive. They have just completed their study and they are now making a pitch as to how we can now bring in private sector players in developing this ferry service. This ferry will be able to move goods, people and vehicles from north to south throughout the region,” Brathwaite explained.
He added that many years ago the Central Bank established a logistical company, known as the OECS Distribution and Transportation Company (ODTC), which he admitted has not been very active. But the rationale behind the company was to find out how a private company could play a role in facilitating ferry services within the region.
The deputy governor stated that the ferry system that is being looked at could facilitate individuals across the region who may travel from one island to another for whatever reason, to do so with ease. He gave the example of a person vacationing in Dominica but not wanting to rent a vehicle when they get to Dominica. He said that this person would be able to put their vehicle on the ferry and take it with them.
He acknowledged that this kind of service is the norm in European and Asian countries, adding that the vessels that are being considered are fast and will be able to get from port to port in reasonable time and not take hours to move between the islands.
Brathwaite said this ferry system will definitely boost the economies of the islands that it services. He said that tourism would be an area that will likely see an increase. According to him, a lot of tourists like to explore the islands and they would be able to, for example, come to Antigua, rent a vehicle then take that vehicle to St. Lucia. He posited that the islands will “share the spoils.”
When asked if this practice would have a negative effect on car rental companies, Brathwaite said that it is time that people change the way they view things and start focusing on the positive and not only the negative.
The ECCB deputy governor said that he will personally be pushing for continued dialogue regarding this project because he thinks it is an excellent idea that could reap massive benefits for Caribbean states.
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