Tourism Taxi Taskforce seeks to address longstanding issues
Tourism Taxi Taskforce meeting
The Ministry of Tourism has engaged local taxi operators within the tourism sector in an effort to address concerns affecting drivers over a prolonged period of time.
Amid the COVID-19 shutdown, a Tourism Taxi Taskforce was appointed by Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, to look into the issues affecting taxi operators within the tourism sector specifically, with a view to making recommendations to improve operations of the sector as well as setting up a policy for tourism transportation in Saint Lucia.
"There have been issues for more than fifteen years in the sector, some of which can be described as systemic and would require some level of legislative intervention," Chairperson of the Tourism Taxi Taskforce, Timothy Ferdinand explained.
Some of the major issues included piracy by non-registered taxi operators.
"We have concluded that it is fitting to have a database of the existing operators within the sector in terms of the plate system, the TX plates as well as the H plates that are out there. This is one of the ways we can better regulate and serve the taxi sector by ensuring we have all the information required, this will allow us to know who is operating where and with what type of license plate," Ferdinand said.
The idea of regulation was welcomed by the various taxi organizations including the National Taxi Union (NTU).
According to NTU President, Lucien Joseph, it is extremely important for the survival of the sector.
“Right now there what is in the system, there is no teeth that we can bite, everybody doing whatever they want and yes we have tried to regulate the system and was unsuccessful, however, the Chairman (Timothy Ferdinand) is a very knowledgeable person and he is somebody that works with us, so what we trying to do now is to put regulations in place where we can identify who is a tourism taxi driver, who is an individual taxi or who is trying to ply a trade and they are not licensed, taxi operators.
With this, tourists and taxis will be protected,” Lucien said.
The NTU president has cast blame on all taxi drivers for the dire state of the sector, prior to COVID-19.
“The ministry has been working with us for the longest while but you have to blame us, taxi drivers, because we are not together and it creates mischief among ourselves, always want to fight against each other but by undertaking this initiative we can master what we want.”