Nfld. & Labrador

After nearly a week without a ferry, Fogo Island residents demand answers

Residents want better communication about the state of the ferries and the plans during delays.

The MV Legionnaire resumed service to the Fogo Island-Change Islands-Farewell route on Sunday

The MV Legionnaire was tapped to pick up the Fogo Island-Change Islands-Farewell route for the MV Veteran. (Bill Kavanagh/Twitter)

Rod Rowe left Fogo Island on the 10 a.m. Monday sailing, with plans to attend a meeting for crab fishermen and be back home the next night.

But as of Saturday afternoon, he was still in Gander, wondering when he'll be able to get home.

"I'd like to be home, I've got work to do," he said. "But what about the people who've got nowhere to stay? What about the companies out on the island trying to survive with no fuel, no whatever, no supplies?"

According to a post made March 8 by the Town of Fogo Island's Facebook page, the MV Legionnaire, which normally services Bell Island, was heading over to cover the Fogo Island-Change Islands-Farewell route for the MV Veteran, which is out of service.

The MV Veteran has been brought out of service several times since its maiden voyage for Newfoundland in 2015. (Rob Antle/CBC)

The Veteran has been plagued by mechanical problems since it arrived in Newfoundland in 2015.

Rowe said the Legionnaire ran into trouble on Monday — his morning crossing was likely one of the last of the day, he said. The ferry resumed service late in the morning on Sunday.

When the ferry was out of service, the Department of Transportation and Works set up regular flights throughout the day to get people to and from the island. Rowe said he can't fly with his two 100-pound dogs unless he puts them in cargo, in a kennel — and he's not willing to do that.

"I wouldn't treat the dogs like our Liberal government is treating the people of Fogo Island."

Better communication needed

He said it's been difficult to get any information about the state of the ferry and what's wrong with it, and that the department doesn't update its website or its telephone information recording often enough to let people know what's going on.

He said he spoke with Derrick Bragg, the Liberal MHA for Fogo Island-Cape Freels, but said Bragg wasn't able to provide much information either.

"Just let the people know," he said. "Everybody's in the dark."

On Friday night, the telephone information line, which plays a recorded message, indicated that repairs on the Legionnaire were expected to wrap up that evening and that sea trials would begin Saturday afternoon. But on Saturday, a message recorded at 1:30 p.m. said repairs were ongoing and the ferry was still out of commission.

CBC News asked the Department of Transportation and Works for information about the situation. A spokesperson said they would look into it and provided a link to the schedule of flights between Gander and Fogo Island.

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