Photo: Alexander Shields The Duty
The ferry “NM Trans-Saint-Laurent”, which connects the regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent and Charlevoix, carried out Wednesday, his last maritime links between Rivière-du-Loup and Saint-Siméon. He will be heading to Quebec in order that repairs are carried out.
Despite the many hiccups of the last few months in the services of the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), no reform of the ways to make the body is not in the program.
“No change is currently planned to STQ “, said on Thursday the press secretary of the minister François Bonnardel, who did not want to comment on the most recent gaps in the service provided along the river.
By 7 January, the only ferry to connect the two shores of the St. Lawrence is Quebec city–Lévis. One of Saint-Siméon–Rivière-du-Loup has ceased its activities on January 3, and the one that links Matane to the North Shore is at a standstill since December 21. Thus, by Tuesday, the car and truck drivers must make the detour of over 800 kilometres through Quebec to move from one bank to the other of the river, in the east of Quebec.
“These are vital links for the people of this place,” said Jacques Demers, president of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) and mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley in the eastern Townships.
This situation is the result of the judgment of the NMF.-A.-Gauthier, a ship that has broken since its acquisition by the STQ, three years ago, in the amount of $ 180 million. Between July 2015 and January 2016 only, the F.-A.-Gauthier has been the subject of 128 breakage and adjustments.
No “household” to do
Until now, the minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, did not want to reject the responsibility on the Company ferries. Instead, he criticized the previous liberal government not to have ordered the purchase of a ferry replacement as recommended by the STQ in the last year.
Yet, the CAQ called for internal reforms, aggressive when it was in opposition. “There is a big cleaning to do in the STQ. Is it that the minister has the lucidity to make this household ? ” denounced the deputy caquiste Donald Martel last February. In December 2017, mp Eric Cairo had invited the liberals to show the door to leaders of the STQ.
In addition, the CAQ is not the only one to show understanding toward the STQ. On Thursday, the interim leader of the Parti québécois, Pascal Bérubé, didn’t want to not pick at the Crown corporation. “What matters to me, me, it is to provide the crosses. “
During a press conference before Christmas, the minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, said that he intended to provide Québec with a new replacement vessel to prevent such a situation from happening again.
He has also offered to users of the F.-A.-Gauthier (Matane-Godbout) an airmail service, but this does not answer all the needs, according to the president of the FQM. “There are the goods that cannot travel by air. “
During the Holiday season, a large number of cars and trucks turned toward the Trans-Saint-Laurent, reports to the mayor of Saint-Siméon, Sylvain Tremblay. However, this service is interrupted as each month of January for maintenance activities.
A boat is not like the others
To the STQ, the spokesperson AlexandreLavoie recognizes that there is ” room for improvement “, but says that, overall, the system of replacement of the ferry works well. “Across our network, our ships can replace one another. That said, to Matane, the F.-A.-Gauthier has a template much more important and different from the others, and it is sure that to him, it is more difficult to replace. “
He adds that the STQ has found a replacement vessel for the F.-A.-Gauthier : the CTMA Vacancier, which serves the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. But this is a “technical stop” for maintenance until January 7, and the STQ has not been able to release it earlier. “If he had been able to enter service earlier (that is to say, before the end of the service to Rivière-du-Loup), it is sure it would have taken,” says the spokesperson.
The mayor of Saint-Simeon, him, réclamedepuis eight years that the ferry that connects his city to Rivière-du-Loup is no longer interrupted in January and become operational in the year. “If the service was offered to the year, it could much better support the interruptions of other services,” he says, noting that his village would also be a winner. “With the ferry, the last convenience store in the village, the last grocery store are much more crowded. “
At STQ, we do not want to comment on this suggestion. The future of the boat of Saint-Siméon–Rivière-du-Loup — one of the few to be managed by a private company — is in the study, since the contract binding the STQ the company — La Traverse Rivière-du-Loup–St-Siméon ltée — falls due anyway.