NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Some 40 taxicab drivers who lease taxi plates are presently unemployed, as a result of new regulations imposed on cab drivers, according to president of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union Wesley Ferguson.
Ferguson told Eyewitness News on Wednesday that the 40 drivers are suffering financially as they are unable to work.
“These people are desperate, out of work, bills are piling up and there is no resolution to this,” Ferguson said.
According to Ferguson, at the beginning of the year, the government informed cab drivers that they would regulate the taxicab industry, which meant that taxi plates would be taken away and redistributed lawfully. But Ferguson said the move created a problem for persons who were leasing plates.
“These people panicked when the government made the announcement that they were going to stop leasing [plates].“It caused those people [the original owners of the plates] to retrieve their taxi plates and put [the leasers] out of work.”
The taxi union president said he made an attempt to reach out to Transport Minister, Renward Wells, to step in and allow the leasers to operate taxis while a regulation process was being finalized.
“We have had more than one conversation [with Mr. Wells]. Letters have been sent to the minister, we have had personal conversations with the minister, personal conversations with executives at the ministry of transport office and to no avail,” Ferguson said, adding that some drivers who lease plates have been without a job for months.
“I don’t know how long they are supposed to wait on the minister. He has given us the excuse about the budget [but] to my knowledge, the budget has nothing to do with taxi drivers and the state that they are in. The budget is not going to pay their bills [or] render any relief.”
Ferguson said the ministry of transport seems to continuously brush the union to the side and they will no longer allow it.
“These people are desperate, out of work and bills are piling up,” he said. “There is no resolution to this. We were asking the minister to give us a temporary fix to the solution so they can go back to work and take care of their families but it seems to me that the minister is not interested.”