Taxi drivers urge Govt to address issues
Frustrated taxi drivers are urging Government to speed up changes to regulations that govern the industry.
And the head of the Bermuda Taxi Owners/Operators Association has said a failure to implement new rules before the House of Assembly adjourned for the summer yesterday meant that drivers faced another difficult off season.
The BTOA met with Transport chiefs in May and put forward a number of proposals it said were essential to assist struggling cabbies. Top of the wish list is an increase in fare rates, which have remained unchanged for five years.
“Generally it was a very good meeting where the industry stated its case and put options on the table to for the Government to consider,” BTOA President Derek Young said last night.
“Everyone felt very positive after the meeting, however we have heard nothing since then.
“As everyone knows a rate increase for taxi drivers is one of the many long outstanding issues that we were hoping to get resolved this summer. However the House of Assembly will now be off for the summer break and will not be coming back to Parliament until the second week of September.
“This means we are right back at zero in the slow season again, with still no increase. By time this is brought to the House and debated, we’re looking at Christmas and into the New Year and we cannot go along struggling as we are.
“As far as I’m concerned, along with many of my colleagues, we believe that the urgency in resolving our issues is just not there. All the industry is asking for is the Government to make some sort of statement saying we haven’t been forgotten and where they are in the process. I can only be the buffer between the industry and the Government for so long before frustrations become more intense.
“Taxi drivers, although frustrated, have been very patient with the Government who have promised that our long outstanding issues will be addressed. I think the main issue is that we don’t know where the Government is in the process or what progress has been made in addressing our concerns. We just don’t know, but we are told it’s a work in progress.”
Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell last night said he expected new laws to be introduced by the end of the year.
He confirmed that he had met with stakeholders in the industry “who presented a plethora of items they wanted Government to consider”.
“We have been in the process of reviewing and investigating their list of issues and compiling a comprehensive paper dealing with as many of the matters as possible to go before Cabinet for their review and ultimate decision,” Mr Crockwell said.
“This should happen shortly and it is hoped that a Ministerial Statement articulating Government’s position on these issues will be given by myself during the September sitting of the House of Assembly and the necessary changes to legislation will be addressed in the fall session of Parliament.
“The Ministry will continue to talk with our stakeholders in the taxi industry as we move forward with the recommended initiatives to enhance and improve our taxi service offerings, all of which will require legislative approval. I understand the complexities of the taxi industry and the various views of stakeholders.
“Helping our taxi owners and operators is a priority for this Ministry and the Government and we will see progress made in the near future.”