Thompson says govt. is committed to working with union
Taxi drivers in the nation’s second city have given the government an ultimatum: It has until June 7th to address the Grand Bahama taxi cab union’s outstanding issues or face the consequences.
At a press conference held Wednesday, Vice President of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Trade Union Congress, Kirk Russell, claimed that tour companies and private drivers are soliciting passengers at the resorts, the airport and the harbour, taking jobs away from taxi drivers.
Russell said if the Road Traffic Department does not intervene soon, drivers will withdraw their services.
But in response to the union’s concerns, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson,said the issues that taxi cab drivers presently face have been this way for years. He noted, however, that taxis are very important to the island.
“We took a direct interest in taxis in Grand Bahama and helped to secure additional business for them,” said Thompson ata press conference held at the Office of the Prime Minister.
“An agreement was arrived at between the Taxi Union and Bahamas Paradise Cruises, detailing that the taxi drivers would transport the overnight guests and the tour buses would take the day passengers.
“As a result of the agreement, it is estimated that taxi drivers will [earn] a significant amount of new business.”
Thompson said through this agreement, the taxis are able to build relationships with their passengers who are staying on the island overnight and, therefore, can arrange future trips which can result in a better experience for the guests and more economic activity for the driver.
“We know there are issues which continue to exist at the harbour and other locations and remain fully committed to working with the taxi union,” Thompson said.
The Minister further stated that the government is working to bring more business to the island and they will ensure that taxis get their fair share of business.
“We believe that while we must fix the existing challenges we must also work to complete the major investments such as Royal Caribbean/ITM, and Carnival cruise Port which [pose] tremendous potential for taxis. We have urged them to prepare themselves for what lies ahead,” Thompson said.
Another concern the taxi drivers have is the issue of increased fares, of which Thompson said he has been advised by the Minister of Transport that the increases have been approved by the government and tabled in Parliament.
Thompson said the fares must now be gazetted before they come into force, and the process is estimated to be completed before the end of this month.