Will ratepayers and residents north of the Daintree River be pleased with the way this Council has solved the issue of long queues and waiting times to cross the Daintree River?
July 1, 2021 was the date the new two-ferry system was supposed be operating with improved resident priority lanes and an electronic ticketing system to end waiting times. The main ferry was going to have greater capacity and be solar-powered with the existing ferry as a backup to be used in peak times to end the long delays. This ferry system would have generated income for the Douglas Shire and continued to provide employment for over 20 locals.
Instead $4.5 million has been spent to purchase the old ferry and around a dozen locals have lost their jobs because the contract to operate the ferry went to a New Zealand based company instead of the local contractor. There is no improved priority lane for locals, no electronic ticketing and the queues and waiting times are as long as ever.
The previous Council voted to finalise the contract for the two ferries on December 3, 2019 when they awarded the contract. Four months later at the first meeting of this current council in April 2020, the Mayor and Councillors McKeown and Scomazzon voted their support for a Mayoral Minute to suspend the contract negotiations to hold a poll on a bridge. The poll resulted in two thirds of voters preferring the two-ferry system over a bridge.
So where is the two-ferry solution that ratepayers first supported after extensive consultations in 2018-19 and again in 2020? The current tender negotiations have expired and Council has not called new tenders.
Why are there still long queues with no date for a solution?
Instead this incompetent Council spent $4.5 million to buy the old ferry. This fiasco has wasted 18 months of time and resources when the previous and very competent Council would have had two ferries operating, and have solved the problem of the long wait times.
We are fortunate that Councillors Noli and Zammataro opposed the Mayoral Minute and did their best to support the two-ferry service to end the long wait times for residents and visitors, and continue to do so.