Residents are mad as hell
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“We are mad as hell about the Council delay in telling the community about the closure and the lack of consultation leading up to Council’s alternative arrangements being announced. The meeting emphatically supported the need for a replacement vehicle ferry, and we will not take ‘No’ for an answer,” said Diwan resident Jeremy Blockey.
“Council seem to be listening now, but are still adamant that they have done nothing wrong. With the dialogue our community has started with Council, and some political influence, we are hopeful of a satisfactory outcome,” Mr Blockey said.
Council has arranged for a vessel to enable fruit growers such as Mr Blockey to maintain their supply chain.
Regarding a substitute for the ferry itself, Mayor Julia Leu told the that “Council investigated the feasibility of employing a vehicle barge before the February 1 public notification date.
“This was deemed impractical due to the projected costs to ratepayers and availability.”
A proposal by residents for a Sea Swift barge had been discounted by DSC as a solution.
“The proposed Sea Swift barge is not practical due to its size, the depth of the Daintree River and it is also not available for the closure dates,” the mayor said.
The mandatory closure dates are not flexible due to an extreme high tide that will help dry dock the ferry.
“The proposed barge is 38 metres long and 9 metres wide. This is also too big for the existing boat ramps,” she said.
“The proposed barge also only has one point of entry. Vehicles would have to reverse off the barge and turn around when exiting, which is not suited to the car parks on either side of the river. This could be a safety hazard.
“The proposed barge also has a 2.14m draw, which means it requires waters deeper than 2 metres to operate in.
“The Daintree River is too shallow for this.
“The existing channel that the ferry uses to cross the Daintree River can’t be used during the dry-docking due to where the inspection will be taking place,” Ms Leu said.
On the matter of council providing a shuttle bus service north of the river, DSC has said it is looking at extending to Cape Tribulation instead of terminating at Cow Bay.
“Residents and business owners who may benefit from this service are invited to contact Gaye Scott so Council can assess demand,” Ms Leu said.
“It is vital that Council is able to get an idea of how many people would need the service.”
Council has recorded all requests and feedback in the past week and will consider these suggestions in the next three weeks.
“Council has worked extensively since we were first notified in December 2017. This has involved planning logistics - over and above the ferry contract requirements - to alleviate the inconvenience of this mandatory inspection.
“This has included organising FREE shuttle buses, traffic management plans and security for parked vehicles.
“We understand the inconvenience the mandatory closure will cause, however, this is something that is out of Council’s control, Ms Leu said.
GThere was plenty of acrimon still among residents and business owners north of the river over the closure.
“What was Council thinking when they dreamed up this scheme?” business owner Lawrence Mason asked. “It is totally unworkable and paralyses the community.”
Another business owner and resident, Vicki Bidwell, said, “Council obviously had no serious intent in assisting the community and were happy to let us pick up the pieces. It has been a nightmare for our business making cancellations and it will mean staff are put off when hours are already cut in the low season.”
A spokesperson for Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours at Cape Tribulation said: “The closure of the Ferry will put a significant strain on businesses and the community, who work hard to keep the Daintree an all year round and world-class destination.
“While we understand maintenance works are essential, the lack of forethought, planning and consultation is staggering.
“We cannot accept that four weeks is sufficient or reasonable notice in an industry where plans are made months and years in advance.
“The reputation of our business and the entire Daintree region is severely damaged when our clients booked over this period must be cancelled simply because there is ineffective planning in place.”
Jeremy Blockey of Cape Trib Farm