October 5, 2011 – 7:33PM
Coochiemudlo Island residents could find themselves stranded on the island after the second of two barges servicing the population failed a seaworthy test today.
Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Patrick Quirk said one of two ferries operated by Megamia Barges, the Sirenia, was taken out of service last week.
A second barge, the Megamia, was inspected today.
“Both barges, the Sirenia and the Megamia, have been issued with harbourmaster directions to prevent them operating because of unsafe conditions on board,” Mr Quirk said.
“We’ll work with the operator to get the vessels back into operation, but the prime responsibility for operating safe vessels lies with the master and the operator – it’s their responsibility.”
Mr Quirk said he was unaware of alternative transport to and from the island, but he anticipated the barge operator would organise an alternative ferry service.
Megamia Barges spokeswoman Megan Davis tonight said a smaller barge, the Kooringal Trader, would be brought in to operate between 10am and 2pm tomorrow.
“I know our office lady has been taking phone numbers down from people who are stuck there now,” she said.
“We’re working at getting our big barge, the Sirenia, back on as soon as possible. It’s been a much longer process than we wanted it to be – we just want to be up and running again.”
Ms Davis said the Sirenia would be inspected on Monday and she hoped to have it back on the water by Tuesday.
She said the Sirenia was purchased to take the pressure off the ageing Megamia and to ensure there was always at least one large barge in operation.
But a run of “bad luck” had seen both out of operation at the same time.
“Everything that could go wrong has,” Ms Davis said.
“When it rains it pours, and I can tell you it’s been bucketing down … Hopefully everything will go well on Monday and, if the gods are good, we’ll be back on Tuesday.