By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The prime minister yesterday said he had warned taxi drivers that The Bahamas “cannot afford any instability” as he pledged to address concerns that sparked recent industrial action.
Speaking with reporters following his presentation at the Bahamas Business Outlook conference, Dr Hubert Minnis said he had spoken to Bahamas Taxicab Union (BTU) president, Wesley Ferguson, prior to his Monday departure for meetings with European Union (EU) officials.
“I spoke to the taxi cab drivers before I left,” he disclosed. “They were very responsive. I spoke to the president because I had heard through the rumour mill that they were taking industrial action.
“I called the president, and I informed him that I was going off to discuss a financial matter to improve the country’s financial affairs, and that we cannot at the time have any degree of instability because it would send a very bad message. He understood that and said he totally agreed with me, and that when I returned I would commence dialogue. I have given him that commitment.”
Mr Ferguson yesterday told Tribune Business that “serious” talks with the prime minister could go “a long way” towards resolving the many issues in the taxi industry. “So far I have not heard from him yet. I’m sure that he might be a little busy having just returning from a major trip,” the Taxicab Union president said.
“We’re giving him some time to get back to us. Of course, if he doesn’t then we will have to revert back to our original mode of operation. We’re giving him an opportunity to get organised and get the information he needs from his various ministries. If nothing happens we will have to go back to our shutdown. And withdraw our services completely.”
Taxi drivers began their industrial action last week at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), where they allege that limousine drivers and tour operators have been taking their business for years. THE BTU president said taxi drivers also have issues at Atlantis, Baha Mar and Prince George Wharf that need to be resolved.
Drivers last year urged the Government to end the two-decade old moratorium on new plates during a town hall meeting with minister of transport, Renward Wells. They cited the lifting of the moratorium as a key issue, with numerous complaints being raised over the leasing of taxi plates.