GNWT purchases barges, other assets from NTCL for $7.5 M

One of NTCL's ships. Photo courtesy: NTCL.
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In a move to help protect the supply chain of fuel and other necessities to small NWT communities, the GNWT has purchased assets from a marine transportation company to the tune of $7.5 million.

Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) was founded over 80 years ago, and was previously transporting fuel the GNWT supplies to many remote communities along the Mackenzie River and Arctic coast like Fort Good Hope and Lutselk’e.

Related: At least 49 NTCL employees facing temporary layoff notices Friday

Over the past decade, NTCL’s business has declined. After running into financial trouble, the company informed the territorial government earlier this year that they would be discontinuing their business with them.

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After unsuccessful attempts to find another inexpensive contractor to replace NTCL, the GNWT decided to purchase the company’s assets instead.

“We have a number of communities in the Northwest Territories that are (in very shallow waters),” John Vandenberg, assistant deputy minister of Energy with the department of Public Works, told Moose FM.

“They’re difficult to get into, and they can only really be properly accessed with this type of specially built equipment,” he said.

“This type of specially built equipment is not typically available on the marketplace – new or used.”

In a press release, the GNWT called these services a ‘lifeline’ for many remote communities in the territory.

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Vandenberg says they felt it was ‘prudent’ to buy the assets now.

“These assets are rather unique,” he explained. “They were purpose-built for use on the Mackenzie River and in the surrounding area. It’s very difficult to find a company with tugs and barges specially built for shallow-draft operations.”

Assets

The assets purchased by the GNWT include tug boats and barges typically used to transport fuel, medical supplies, trucks, heavy equipment, lumber and other goods to remote communities.

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The government also purchased former NTCL properties, including a support facility in Hay River and loading facilities in both Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

By purchasing these assets, the GNWT says it is preserving a more cost-efficient transportation option for communities where these kind of services are a necessity.

In the long run, they say this will make raises in power bills and other expenses for residents NTCL shipped to far less likely, a relief for small communities where the cost of living is already a problem.

“It is the role of government to ensure that essential services are provided to residents and that the costs for providing these services are affordable,” said Minister of Finance Robert McLeod in a statement.

“Purchasing NTCL assets was good value for money and makes sure that the marine transportation sector in the NWT will be sustained.”

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