Willie Rennie, the former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says he fears young people living on the islands will start to question whether they really want to stay there if the ferry problems last much longer.
“You have cataclysmic impacts unless the government steps in,” he says.
“If it was a major transport problem in the central belt, I bet there would be a recall from parliament. Because it’s tucked away on the west coast, away from the central belt, it becomes less of a priority. This must change.
“This is the end of this crisis. We must stop the government from responding and coming up with an elaborate plan.”
CalMac is heavily taxpayer subsidized and operates a fleet of 34 ferries, some more than four decades old.
The company is awaiting the delivery of two new ferries from Ferguson Marine shipyard in Glasgow – also nationalized – which are expected to enter service several years late and tens of millions of pounds over budget.
Earlier this summer CalMac had to close two routes between Uig on Skye, Lochmaddy on North Uist and Tarbert on Harris due to a safety issue on one of its oldest boats which sparked widespread concerns about the under – investment in the ferry network.
Patience is rapidly running out, with locals keen to raise awareness about the impact cancellations can have on their communities during the key summer tourist season. Hope Blamire, an artist from the Isle of Harris, has urged tourists not to ‘give up’ on the island in a social media post warning the public that ‘the people of Harris are in dire straits’ at the latest. following the chaos of travel. .
In her post, shared by thousands, she said families with young children sat in their cars until ten in the hope of securing a place on a 10:30 p.m. ferry that day- there, while other residents had missed key medical appointments. “For five days the daughter of a seriously ill man could not join Harris to see her father,” Blamire said.