By YOURI KEWP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Taxi Cab Union's (BTCU) president yesterday called for the creation of "sanitisation booths" to ensure vehicles are sanitised after every fare once the economy is re-opened after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Wesley Ferguson told Tribune Business that the union and industry are "putting together a proposal". He said: "We are putting some ideas together so we can put it all together as a group, because I am part of the sub-committee for travel, transportation and the orange economy [on the government's economic recovery committee].
'We have had two Zoom meetings already. We are still strategising how it will all make sense. I'm putting together thoughta and ideas for the transportation committee, and then we send it on to the chairman of the whole committee. That is Obie Ferguson, president of the Bahamas Trade Union Congress. We are trying put forward ideas to give the Government a road map from what we as union heads think they should implement."
Mr Ferguson said the "booths" will allow a taxi cab to be sanitised and inspected after every fare, along with the implementation of a sticker system so a taxi can be verified as having undergone this process. He added: "We also need a system to show that a driver is COVID-19 free, and some sort of rapid testing system to show the tourists that this driver is COVID-19 free.
"We want to ensure for our tourists that they are driving around in a taxi that is clean of garbage, sanitised and the driver is in full health. In hindsight, if the government had moved expeditiously on taxi plates when they first announced it in January, a lot of taxi drivers would have been in better shape. The vast majority of taxi drivers are leasing these plates.
"The government wasted our time and money to license our cars not knowing the economy was going to shut down," Mr Ferguson continued, "so we made a sacrifice. Some of these cars cost upwards of $600 to license.
"But what has us in a bind is that if the owner asks for the plate back because there is no work for the taxi drivers, as in this country-wide lockdown, the taxi driver is out of money and there is no money being made to make that money back for him. If those plates were issued out a lot of the taxi drivers would have had their own plates and not be losing out on money, because the plates would have been theirs."