Bell Island loses both ferries

Political parties point fingers at each other in House

Dave Bartlett talkingtelevision@gmail.com
Published on June 2, 2010
The ferry Nonia is framed by crab pots as it approaches the dock in Portugal Cove recently. File photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

While the government and Liberal Opposition played the blame game in the House of Assembly Tuesday, Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine said the bottom line is Bell Island is once again without ferry service.

Both ferries which take people between Bell Island and Portugal Cove are currently being repaired because of issues with their thrusters.

While the government and Liberal Opposition played the blame game in the House of Assembly Tuesday, Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine said the bottom line is Bell Island is once again without ferry service.

Both ferries which take people between Bell Island and Portugal Cove are currently being repaired because of issues with their thrusters.

On the weekend, a bow thruster on the Flanders broke and the ferry was taken out of service for repairs.

On Tuesday morning, The Nonia was also taken out of service after a rope was found wrapped around one of its thrusters.

"It's outrageous," Gosine told The Telegram Tuesday afternoon.

"As of right now, as we speak, we're (in) no different a situation then we were at 8:25 this morning," he continued. "I'm down here now at the ferry terminal. The place is blocked, but nobody knows anything (that's) going on."

Gosine was also perplexed about how a rope became entangled in the Nonia's thruster.

He then told a couple of anecdotes he's heard recently about how residents of Bell Island have been affected by disruptions in the ferry service.

Gosine said he had a call from a woman in a wheelchair who had tickets to see Daniel O'Donnell - the Irish singer - at Mile One Tuesday evening.

He said the woman had front row seats, purchased seven months ago, and had a hotel room booked in St. John's for after the show.

But now she can't go.

Last Friday, another woman who just finished chemotherapy and was returning home to Bell Island, but had to spend the night on a cot in an office at the Portugal Cove terminal because she couldn't get on a ferry.

While Gosine kept an eye on the lineups at the ferry dock, Liberal MHA Roland Butler and Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson sparred over the state of the province's ferry fleet during question period.

Hedderson accused the last Liberal government of neglecting provincial ferries.

"This government inherited a fleet that is an embarrassment to any jurisdiction in North America, let alone in Canada, and I say to them, that this government has responded. This year alone, $55 million to try ... to make good on 15 years of neglect on that side of the House," he said, his voice raising in anger over the taunts directed at the Liberals from the backbenches.

"This government's been in power for seven years," Butler said. "It's time to stop laying the blame on someone else, when they had budgets that increased as high as $6 billion and $7 billion, Mr. Speaker," pointed out Butler.

Gosine was not impressed by the bickering.

"Where did that get anyone today, over here?" he said.

The mayor suggested both sides are equally to blame.

The Flanders is expected to be back in service within a day or two. There was no word by deadline n how long the Nonia may be out of service.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com