New regional ferry service set to create hundreds of jobs

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By Robert A Emmanuel

[email protected]

The consortium of companies behind the Connect Caribe regional ferry service told reporters on Tuesday they are hopeful they will be able to create at least 270 new jobs across the region—not including indirect employment.

The group includes Upturn Funds, Windward Ferries Ltd, Ramps Logistics, Anthony Hinkson Consultancy Services, and JS Cruises and Tours.

Connect Caribe Chairman, Ambassador Dr Andre Thomas, said many of those jobs will be created in the first phase of the service’s rollout.

“They will be created in different areas, so there are jobs, obviously, that will be created on the ferry service itself, jobs that will be created within the headquarters… the cargo division…e-commerce division because the e-commerce division will need to have folks for goods that have to come into the warehouse and be verified,” Dr Thomas said.

Hoping to get off the ground during the last quarter of 2024, Connect Caribe’s executives are promising to have three vessels as part of the initial fleet—a passenger, cargo and fast vessel.

Vice Chairman of the consortium, Raphael D’angelis from Upturn Funds New York, said more jobs are expected to be created indirectly.

“No other project in the region today can create the indirect jobs on the e-commerce platform and agri-business on this level; we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs across the spectrum in e-commerce now being possible.

“People will start their own business because of our system of a flat rate transportation between countries, or the possibility of agri-businesses and how many people will hire to be able to grow agriculture goods because now there is internal demand between countries,” D’angelis said.

The group is also hoping to have satellite offices in each of the islands that they have marked for the route, fully staffed with travel and cargo personnel as they detail their vision of their company.

While the consortium has yet to speak directly to all of the individual governments proposed to be part of the route—Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica, and Suriname—they are hoping to begin those talks soon.

Regional governments have long mulled over ways to improve regional transportation across the Caribbean as the lack of affordable intra-regional travel has been a hindrance on the free movement of people, goods and services.

Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago recently announced they are creating a joint company that would lead to the introduction of a separate regional ferry service in a bid to boost transportation between the three countries.

“We’ve had talks with the Caricom Private Sector Organization that has a mandate to implement this… and we have had conversations and talks with all three governments, at a particular level, with regards to the ferry service that is Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana,” Dr Thomas reported.

“It’s our intention that, after this press conference, that we will now engage very significantly with the individual governments because obviously the service is going to go there and we want to work in tandem and in a synergistic way with them,” he added.

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