By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Taxi Cab Union is backing the reintroduction of a towing system to downtown Nassau, according to its President Leon Griffin.
That system, he said, would be complemented by the debut of parking meters which would set a 30 minute maximum for motorists.
“Parking meters to that area is an excellent avenue for the government to take,” Mr Griffin said. “Under the licensing act, parking on Bay should only be allowed for 30 minutes, but the police have not been enforcing that law and people have been taking advantage of that.
“Parking meters on Bay Street would force the downtown business owners to find places for their employees to park their cars, creating spots for locals,” he said.
He added that the union is elated that the government is moving forward with efforts to enforce designated parking for taxi cab drivers who have for several years been hassled by police officers for menial reasons.
“Ever since the former government ordered us to leave Bay Street, I have gotten complaints from other drivers who have said the police ticket them for simply dropping tourists off, or they are ticketed for other foolish reasons. Parking for us will alleviate those instances,” Mr Griffin said.
The issue of parking downtown has sparked much discussion since Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin, almost two weeks ago, announced in the House of Assembly that designated parking would soon be reintroduced to Bay Street. Mr Griffin said 32 spaces would belong to the drivers.
However, not everyone agrees that towing or parking meters are a good approach for the downtown market.
Wintson Rolle, Chief Executive Officer, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, said the right mix of taxi spaces to public spaces is needed to see the scheme work. Either way, Mr Rolle said, locals would be more discouraged with patronising downtown businesses.
“I agree,” he said, “that there should be some spaces for taxis downtown, but I am not sure that Bahamians are ready for a culture that demands us to only park for a certain time and one that places limits on how long we are allowed to shop and visit places at a price.”
Several Readers of The Tribune’s website, tribune242.com also agreed that parking on Bay Street for taxis would not enhance the attractiveness of the area for locals. They were responding to Mrs Hanna-Martin’s first public announcement of her Ministry’s plans for downtown taxi parking.
One commentator said: “It is amazing. I go to New York City and there is not one taxi stand that I see across the place. You need a taxi you wave, flag one down, and this is one of the busiest cities in the world. Come to the Bahamas, and we want to reserve space on a major downtown thoroughfare not for paying customers, but for people who believe they are entitled to something for nothing. How do those spaces contribute to the economy of Bay Street?”
Another reader, said: “Ridiculous. Any of these MPs been downtown trying to find a parking spot lately? Ain’t none to find! Twice I wanted to go on Bay Street looking for an item but gave up after driving round and round. If I, as a customer can’t find a parking space, me and my $$ will go elsewhere.
“Taxis need a call up system. Create an area near the ol’ City Market/St. Agnes’ maybe and have a few booths on Bay Street with one or two persons who can call the taxi for the client. Phone-helper has a job, taxi driver has a job, client has a cab and people who want to park on Bay Street can do so because waiting taxis aren’t taking up valuable parking space.”