Thursday, 9 October 2008

Rathlin Ferry Contract - the Investigations Extended

The release of further information by the Department of Regional Development as well as the following statement by a Calmac representative go some way to explaining the postponement of the investigators' final report until the end of October:

I can confirm that CalMac (actually as Rathlin Ferries Ltd as it was that company which tendered ) and its legal advisor met with two of the team of three conducting the investigation, and that following that meeting RFL made a written submission to them on a number of matters in relation to the Tender Process.

This statement should reassure those who were concerned that the Scottish company would not be permitted to assist the investigations; it might discommode others.

News has also reached me from Co Cork that RTÉ's "Pobal" is currently making a program that will feature an aspect of the ferry service to Cape Clear. I'm told that the programme is to be broadcast on Sunday, October 19.

Perhaps RTÉ or another broadcaster will have a look at some of the problems that appear to have arisen in the Rathlin and Cape Clear ferry services to see what lessons can be learnt for the future.

Adds October 14

The Cape Clear link poses questions about the provision of a catamaran for the Rathlin ferry route in the summer(?) of 2009 now that the DRD has allegedly removed the questionable £1.2 million for a passenger only vessel, questionable in the sense that the tenders indicated no such capital spend.

We were however told that a new Catamaran relief boat would be on station in the island [Cape Clear] from January 1st 2008. When this vessel did not appear for some months the Department was asked what had happened. The answer came back that there had been delays, but that the operator "Assured" the DCRGA that it would be available by October 1st. That was last Wednesday, and unless the operator has invested in Stealth technology, it is not here. Repeated attempts to contact responsible officials in the Department to discover what has happened have failed.

In fact, we are informed by the builders of this new relief that they believe that they are still building it and that a fairly optimistic estimate would put the arrival date in the harbour here around the New Year.

What is the current status of the catamaran that was promised for the Rathlin ferry route? Is it to be constructed on the same premises as the Cape Clear catamaran? Could it possibly be ready on time? Might the CC catamaran have to 'deputise' on the Rathlin route - assuming that it would be given an MCA certificate? I'm told that the smaller 15 metre CC catamaran has yet to be completed even though it was supposed to have been commissioned towards the end of 2007.

The Cape Clear Ferry/Rathlin Island Ferry Limited folks appear to be a bit confused as to which website they're publishing on. For example, the Terms and Conditions link on the CCF website takes you to, er, the Rathlin route [5.20pm October 14]

Is it not a legal requirement that all commercial websites carry a company's registry number, place/state of registry and VAT number? If so, then the aforementioned websites appear to be deficient.

Adds October 15

Is there a formal contract between DRD and Rathlin Island Ferry Limited (RIFL)? CPD published a contract award notice on on June 12, 2008 indicating that the contract was awarded to an individual, Ciaran O'Driscoll, on April 21. RIFL was not registered until May 2.

Photos and documents; search blog with 'rathlin ferry' for earlier stories.