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PLP repeats concern over tourist rental cars

The Opposition has renewed its call for Government to confirm if it plans to pass legislation allowing tourists to rent cars after an OBA backbencher imported new model electric cars claiming they would be “the ideal tourist rental vehicle”.

Devonshire North West MP Glenn Smith, who also runs car dealership Auto Solutions, brought in three Mahindra Reva e2o cars from India last week. The two-door A-class car retails at $24,995 and can travel from one end of the Island to the other three times on a fully charged battery. Both Mr Smith and Stuart Kriendler, of Bermuda Engineering — which was also involved in bringing the model to Bermuda — touted the vehicle's potential as a rental vehicle for tourists in a Bermuda Sun article last week.

Concerns about the arrival were first raised by Shadow Transport Minister Lawrence Scott in the House of Assembly in the early hours of Saturday morning.

During the motion to adjourn, Mr Scott questioned if it was a “coincidence” that the cars had been imported just weeks after Tourism Authority chairman had expressed enthusiasm for the idea of allowing tourists to rent cars.

“One thing we have learned about this Government is that, when they propose something ... they make coincidences politics.”

Mr Smith then rose to make a point of order, pointing out that the cars had been imported to sell to residents.

And Premier Craig Cannonier also interjected, claiming that Mr Scott “doesn't have his facts straight” and that he was “connecting the dots”.

But Mr Scott pressed on with his argument, claiming: “Government is telling me that these cars are not here to be rented, so therefore they should be able to say that these cars will never be rented to tourists.”

Speaker Randolph Horton then advised the Shadow Minister that that was “not a good statement to make” and suggested that the rookie quickly come to a conclusion.

Mr Scott replied: “My conclusion is this — there's something fishy ...” before being ordered to take his seat by the Speaker.

But last night the Progressive Labour Party once again expressed concern over the issue, asking if there was any link between the new cars and earlier statements by Government in support of rental cars for tourists.

A statement issued by Alaska Hall said: “The Progressive Labour Party, like many Bermudians is concerned about conversations regarding providing rental cars for tourists in Bermuda.

“We believe that any decision on this must be made with a focus on benefiting the majority and not a select few. That's why comments by OBA backbencher and owner of Auto Solutions, Mr Glenn Smith ... and Minister of Tourism & Transport Shawn Crockwell referring to possibly business opportunities for providing rental cars to tourists, are so troubling.

“Do the two statements by the political colleagues have any connection? In their apparent haste to push this forward the OBA is ignoring the fact that Bermuda is already struggling with traffic congestion problems. More vehicles on the road would only exacerbate this issue.

“The Minister and OBA backbencher are seemingly also ignoring the fact that in this current environment, many taxi drivers are struggling with making consistent incomes week to week. We believe that offering rental cars to tourists would do irreparable harm to these taxi drivers' livelihoods.

“In addition, our bus and ferry service would likely see reduced revenues from our visitors.

“We ask that the Ministry of Tourism & Transport confirm or deny to the public if there are any plans in place to offer a rental car service to tourists.”

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Published March 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 12:47 am)

PLP repeats concern over tourist rental cars

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