SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has hit out at CalMac over what has been yet another week of uncertainty for businesses, local residents and island visitors in Uist and Harris.

On Monday, CalMac issued a press release stating that there was no confirmed vessel in place yet for the Uig Triangle routes when MV Hebrides left service tomorrow (Saturday 22nd) for her annual overhaul. MV Clansman was delayed in dry dock, and MV Alfred had still not been released to Calmac by Pentland Ferries. This has meant that communities in Uist and Harris have spent the week trying to work out whether ferries from Tarbert and Lochmaddy will be running at all from tomorrow onwards.

It was only late yesterday afternoon that would-be passengers received confirmation that the MCA had now agreed again to extend MV Hebrides’ certification to allow Uig Triangle services to continue as normal on Sunday, with MV Clansman expected to take over the Triangle route from Tuesday. Customers are still awaiting news on sailings for tomorrow afternoon and Monday, which CalMac say will be confirmed today.

Commenting on the situation, Alasdair Allan said:

“It is little wonder that island businesses are at the end of their tether. The confusion and uncertainty resulting from Monday’s initial announcement understandably led to panic, and the lack of consistent information from CalMac over recent days has meant that commercial customers, for example, have been unable to plan and book journeys, losing them vital revenue. Island businesses cannot continue to withstand such persistent uncertainty and unreliability. While the MV Hebrides’ MCA extension is helpful, the ongoing chaos from CalMac is not.

“Hospitality operators have suffered a further wave of cancellations, at a time when the tourist season is meant to be getting into full swing. Regrettably, some of these lost bookings will not return.

“The impact on islanders just trying to go about their daily lives cannot be overstated, and I have been inundated in recent days with concerns from people trying to plan their lives and businesses around this level of uncertainty.

“I appreciate that CalMac have a difficult task on their hands, and dry dock delays cannot always be predicted. However, while communities await the completion of the very welcome new vessels now on order, it is clear that CalMac must better manage their maintenance schedule. They need also to establish resilience plans well in advance of any disruption to avoid this kind of situation again.”




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