On Saturday, May 15, one ferry operator arrived at the terminal with over 100 passengers, which is above the 50-passenger per trip rule the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) has implemented for local ferry companies operating between St. Thomas and the BVI.
This resulted in huge delays in clearing the passengers in and placed a strain on health officials who were tasked with administering COVID-19 tests for each arriving passenger.
BVI Platinum News understands that at one stage health officials did not have enough test kits for passengers and had to source additional ones, which also caused some delays.
Further, BVI Platinum News also observed senior Government officials at the port attempting to resolve matters.
Acting Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Oleanvine Maynard has bemoaned that despite regular meetings with stakeholders, some of the local ferry companies do not want to adhere to the 50 trip rule. It was one of the conditions that the operators were allowed to operate under since the terminal reopened to international passengers on April 15.
Maynard told BVI Platinum News on Sunday that this is on multiple occasions.
“I can confirm that it did happen with the ferry operator that operated yesterday, Saturday. It happened because we had more persons that were approved in the system. They were approved in the system with a certain amount, and they showed up at the ferry’s operators’ desk, and they booked them and as one would have,” she said.
Maynard confirmed that last week there was a particular instance where we had about 61, but never before a situation as Saturday.
"I don’t mind a five extra, but when we go to doubling the amount, I have a problem with that. This is the first time we ever had that amount of persons travelling since we opened the sea border, we didn’t expect so many persons coming up yesterday [Saturday]. We were not prepared for them because they came unaware to us at the last moment. So we had to make the preparations on the spot so that would have lent to some of the tardiness on the dock last night,” she informed.
She added, “But it is something that we are working on for it not to happen again, our count is still 50, we have not increased it, we are looking into the possibility of doing that in the near future, but at the end of today, it is still 50 count.”
In the meantime, Maynard urged the sea transportation stakeholders to cooperate with the authorities.
“The ferry companies need to work along with us, also adhere to the policies that we have in place, for the time being, it's just 50 persons per trip. The passenger would want to get home too, so you can’t really blame them, so the ferry operators they have an obligation to work along with the Ports and other authorities, bearing in mind we are still in the COVID-19 period. We have to practice the social distancing and also the health and safety of persons that are travelling,” Maynard stated.
She added, “We have been keeping meetings with them regularly, they know what we expect of them, and still, some of the ferry operators seem not to want to comply. We had a meeting today (Sunday) with all the agencies involved, the ferry operators and ports, and I am hoping that moving forward I am hoping that we are on the same page and an event like that would not happen next week.”