By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
TRANSPORT and Local Government Minister Renward Wells has “promised faithfully” that by October all issues surrounding the taxi-cab industry will be resolved, according to Bahamas Taxicab Union president Wesley Ferguson.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Ferguson said yesterday that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis shared the same sentiments regarding the new deadline.
He said: “It’s taxi season where all taxi drivers go up for inspection and the SDs (self-drive licence plates) so by October I think most of the issues that we have, including the moratorium and the changing of the taxi plate colour, that should be addressed, because the minister did tell me the commission is still (deliberating) on that and is going to make a decision soon."
When asked if he was confident of the deadline, Mr Ferguson said he doesn't have any confidence because so far, he's only received promises.
"I don’t have any confidence," he explained. "I’m just giving them an opportunity to make good on their promises before we turn the heat back on. When you have people making you promises and they're the authority, you have to give the opportunity."
"Make good on their promises or make a fool of themselves and we are giving them the opportunity before we decide to (take other steps.) It’s just a matter of time, but I don’t have any confidence in them at all."
Mr Ferguson noted the issues the industry faces today were created by some of the ministers of the government-appointed commission.
He said: "The commission that was appointed, most of those people were past controllers and past ministers of transport and they had the opportunity to do what we are asking them to do now. Some of them are (included) in the commission and some of them may be implicated in propriety while in office. I don’t see how they are going to fix something that’s going to implicate them in a negative manner.
"Timing your feet sometimes you move too early, sometimes you move too late, but you must know when to speak and when to shut up. That is what we are exercising right now, constraint. The minister said the (commission) will make a decision soon so we will determine how soon is soon."
In May, Mr Wells said the prime minister had formed a sub-committee of six ministers to tackle all issues surrounding the taxi industry. He added the government would move forward with plans to change the colour of the taxi plates.
“One is a former road traffic controller as you all would know, one is the former minister, Mr Frankie Campbell, the other is the Minister of Tourism (Dionisio D’Aguilar), myself, one is former Minister of Transport Dion Foulkes and obviously the Attorney General (Carl Bethel) so we will be coming together so we can bring the requisite solution to the situation,” he said.
In January, scores of angry taxi drivers gathered in Rawson Square to protest what they consider poor treatment and working conditions as well as “unfair” competition from tour operators.
In June, taxi drivers and jitney drivers joined forces and threatened a “massive shutdown” if government didn’t take their concerns seriously. Both the president of the 1100-strong Bahamas Taxicab Union (BTCU), Wesley Ferguson, and the president of the Bahamas Unified Bus Drivers Union, Frederick Farrington, told The Tribune that government had until July 1 to meet with them and work on resolving their issues.