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More vessels, partnership with Dubai company part of private inter-Caribbean ferry service

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Connect Caribe, a private sector-led ferry service in the Caribbean, has brokered a new partnership with the Dubai-headquartered Jampur Group enabling the venture to expand its fleet that will be available to move cargo and people across the region.

Pleion Group Chairman Dr. Andre Thomas announced the partnership with the Jampur Group on Monday during a press conference hosted in Barbados and online.

According to him, this partnership will allow the Group to advance the Connect Caribe venture much faster than initially planned. Originally, it was envisaged that the ferry service, its first phase at least, would be operational by November 2024.

Now, with access to a fleet of ships and services from the Jampur Group, Thomas said it may be possible to launch the intra-regional cargo service as early as August.

“We are going to start with slightly smaller ships that will go to many more places,” Thomas said, explaining that those vessels will focus on transporting cargo around the region.

Pleion Group Chairman Dr. Andre Thomas

Passengers will be transported too but specialised passenger-carrying ships will be sourced and used in the second phase of the project,

According to Thomas, two larger ships are being sought to transport about 800 to 1,000 passengers at a time. It is expected that those larger vessels will be in the region sometime between November 2024 and the first quarter of 2025.

Simultaneously, the group is working on integrating e-commerce options to make payments easier. The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a cross-border, financial market infrastructure, offered through the African Exim Import Bank is being seriously considered.

“I believe it (the PAPSS venture) will be game-changing for Caribbean economies,” Thomas said.

The Former Harbormaster of the port of Barbados, Richard Allen has joined the Connect Caribe team and will be engaging customs and port authorities in the region so that the ports are ready to accept and accommodate the much-needed vessels.

There is an ongoing venture among governments of Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to commence a new ferry service among the three Caribbean states. This private venture is meant to complement the governments’ venture, recognising the need to expand regional capacity to transport people and goods.

Solving intra-regional transportation woes has been a huge focus of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for years now. With the current revitalised focus on guaranteeing the region’s food security, solving this problem is also in focus.

Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) Dr. Patrick Antoine said this private venture has the backing of the body because there is a huge need for intra-regional transportation solutions.

“In working with them, our focus is going to continue to be to try to support the initiatives with Connect Caribe or other initiatives for this whole conundrum of successful connectivity in the Caribbean,” he said at Monday’s press conference.

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