Taxi drivers last week met with the preferred Nassau cruise port bidder and Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) to discuss Prince George Wharf’s impending redevelopment.
Bahamas Taxi Cab Union (BTCU) executives and the Prince George Wharf Taxi Association met with Global Ports Holding officials and the DNP.
The group included Perry McPhee, Prince George Wharf Taxi Association trustee; Davinci Simms, Bahamas Taxi Cab Union trustee; Sulayman Khalfani, general secretary, Bahamas Taxi Cab Union; Frederick Wallace, chairman, Prince George Wharf Taxi Association; Colin Murphy, Global Ports Holdings’ head of business development for the (Americas); and Ed Fields, managing director, Downtown Nassau Partnership.
Global Ports Holding will operate the new cruise port, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd, under a 25-year leasehold concession from the government. Nassau Cruise Port Ltd is a majority Bahamian-owned company, with Global Ports holding 49 percent of its equity. The 51% balance will be owned by the YES Foundation and the Bahamas Investment Fund (BIF).
“We had a great introductory meeting, which I think marks the beginning of a very positive relationship between Nassau Cruise Port Ltd and the BTCU, with the support of the Downtown Nassau Partnership,” said Mr Murphy. “The BTCU is very keen on ensuring that its members are a part of the redevelopment process, and we understand and appreciate that.”
Mr Khalfani, the union’s general secretary, said: “The meeting went well. Mr Murphy took the time to listen and learn about how we currently operate, and we offered suggestions and shared some of the concerns our members have raised about the project. He gave us some clarity about how Global Ports Holding plans to move forward and engage key stakeholders in this process.
“We found their use of technology interesting, and can see real benefits to our industry. It was an important first step in helping us to forge a strong partnership that will benefit taxi drivers, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd, and the cruise passengers. We look forward to this partnership improving the lives of our members and fellow Bahamians. This project has been a long time coming.”
Mr Fields added: “There are exciting things happening downtown that are bringing stakeholders together that will lend to the success of its transformation. The meeting between the BTCU, Global Ports and the DNP shows how folks with a common cause can work together and overcome challenges as long as all concerns are on the table for consideration.”
Mr Murphy concluded: “Our proposal is about the positive transformation of downtown and the cruise port, and creating opportunities for Bahamians. We don’t want to take anything away from the taxi drivers or make it more difficult for them to survive.
“No one should have to sleep at the dock to be able to make a living. Our goals are to help taxi drivers generate more revenue and enhance their business model where needed through improved organisation and other forms of support. This only works if we work together.”
Global Ports Holding operates including 16 cruise ports and two commercial ports in ten countries, most of which are in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Asia-Pacific regions. It serves over eight million passengers at its cruise ports and handles more than 300,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and about five million tons of total cargo at its commercial ports.