Porto Santo ferry absence causes protests

Protest march for the Lobo Marinho

Ferry protest: Every year in January, Porto Santo is without sea connection to Madeira as the ferry undergoes its annual maintenance. The movement “More Porto Santo” is calling for a replacement service to cover this period, particularly as the exact date of its return is not always known.
Councillor José Antonio Castro points out: “At this moment, we only know that the last trip between the islands took place on January 3. We do not know when the ferry will return, a situation at least inconceivable and bizarre. We have nothing against the operator who owns the ferry line concession, but it is the same every year, without a replacement ship, that will safeguard the economy and tourism of Porto Santo through passenger mobility”.
Inhabitants of Porto Santo can travel by plane to Madeira for the price of a sea connection, however the Councillor believes that cost for Madeirans to travel to Porto Santo are prohibitive – “a real attack, since a fifteen-minute trip costs almost double compared to a Funchal / Lisbon connection. This has serious consequences for our economy, for us, from Porto Santo, who live a month in January (and a few days in February) isolated from the World”.
For the leader of the movement of independent citizens, there is a solution to this eternal problem, but it is dependent on the political will of those who govern the destinies of the Region. “Except in exceptional cases, especially caused by bad weather, the public service has to be safeguarded in all circumstances and maritime connections have to be carried out all year round because it is of vital importance for the economy of Porto Santo and excludes isolation” .
José António Castro also claimed that “The Regional Government must assume this responsibility and move forward with decisions, because Porto Santo is also a territory of the Autonomous Region of Madeira”. A protest march against the absence of the ferry was organised by the group last Sunday.

3 thoughts on “Porto Santo ferry absence causes protests”

  1. Not only would a second, even if just temporary replacement ferry, be a good idea for this period but since the weather at this time of the year can make landings at the airport in Madeira sometimes a problem this would at least allow operators the option to still use Porto Santo in the knowledge there would be a ferry to transport visitors if delays extended throughout the day.
    Also it took years for Madeirans to be granted the subsidies for the ferry to and from Porto Santo is is not too much to ask that this also be extended to cover the extortionate cost of flights even if only for the period when no ferry is available?
    Madeira is supposed to be trying to increase the numbers of tourist but the combination of no ferry service, possible risks of flight diversions and the huge costs for alternative transport routes they hardly seem to be trying to attract many visitors at this time of the year who are not so rich that these costs are immaterial to them. Perhaps that’s the plan, no riff raff??

  2. Are there any rear-loading ferries going spare thst could be used for a 5-week period? Whether or not the Sousa group are interested in filling the gap, the availability a a suitable vessel is the key point.

  3. It would appear there is no contractual obligation for the Sousa Group to provide a relief vessel during annual dry docking periods – maybe that’s something the Regional Government needs to address but at the end of the day it’s the “bean counters’ that perhaps call the shots.
    The Porto Santarians are catered for with flights, the freight will be covered by a EEM (Sousa) container ship so that leaves tourists and Madeirans, and would the accountants Cost Benefit Analysis show a worthwhile expenditure on a relief vessel?
    My semi-educated guess is that it could cost in excess of £300,000 to charter a suitable vessel – assuming one could be found, possibly from ARMAS, – for the 4-5 week absence of the Lobo Marinho.
    Undoubtably those increased costs would be absorbed into the annual running costs of the service but that would almost certainly result in a price hike for fares.

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