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Code of conduct signed for taxi and public service drivers

By KEILE CAMPBELL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kcampbell@tribunemedia.net

TAXI operators and public service drivers will now be governed by an official Code of Conduct following a signing between the Minister of Energy and Transport JoBeth Coleby-Davis and Bahamas Taxi Cab Union (BTCU) President Wesley Ferguson on Friday.

The signing took place during a press conference at the Baha Mar Convention Centre which also officially announced the 10 percent rise in taxi cab fares.

Bahamas Hotel Association President Robert “Sandy” Sands was also present at the press conference.

Mrs Coleby-Davis explained that while a standard of the taxi cab industry “exists in everyone’s mind”, the Code of Conduct aims to document and codify those standards, and provide a guide that can be referred to.

“The Code of Conduct will assist in providing a concrete and defined framework for the service standards," she said. "The standards outlined in the Code of Conduct are not unreasonable, onerous or difficult conditions. We aim for the sector to be the best, and being the best means that we have clear values and expectations.

Mrs Coleby-Davis underscored the important role taxi cab drivers hold as among the first Bahamians with whom tourists interact as “official number one ambassadors” and “driving equality and leading to fight for equality” in the country's history.

“I’ve met many of them – some who are still driving, who shared stories of how they were able to take care of their families, educate their kids, and make a good living off of the taxi industry,” she said.

The introduction of a Code of Conduct is the first of its kind for the taxi cab industry, according to BTCU President Ferguson, who expressed his gratitude to Mrs Coleby-Davis for “having done more for taxi drivers than any minister on record”.

He went on to state that previously, there was a lack of support from the Road Traffic Department in disciplining “rogue taxi drivers”.

“The majority of taxi drivers are still ambassadors, good people," Mr Ferguson said.

"They are upstanding citizens and they work hard to make sure that tourists are well taken care of and get value for their money, but, of course like any other industry, you have those people who just decide that they’re gonna wreak havoc, they’re gonna be rude, disgusting, and disingenuous in some cases, so we seek to turn this industry around,” Mr Ferguson said.

For his part, Mr Sands hailed the tripartite efforts of his organization, the Ministry of Transport and the BTCU in bringing the Code of Conduct into practice, and noted the “heightened awareness and appreciation” of taxi cab driver’s impact to the tourism industry.

In response to questions related to the monitoring and enforcement of the code, Mr Sands said Road Traffic officers are assigned to “key locations” so that they can police the discipline of drivers.

Road Traffic Controller Linda Moxey explained that a tribunal is conducted every Wednesday, adding that once a complaint is made, witnesses are gathered and the case is tried before the tribunal.

Public drivers who are prosecuted can potentially be reprimanded, or suspended, according to Mrs Moxey, who referred to the matter of ‘Cousin Clarence’. In that matter, the taxi cab driver was put before the tribunal after a video surfaced online of a tourist accusing him of defrauding her and her family of 18 persons, and detailing the family's discontent with the services provided.

“He was brought before me and I gave him, I think it was 14 days,” Ms Moxey said. “In addition to that, what we’ll do, we’ll take the plates to ensure that although we say that you’re off for 14 days, two week or four days, as the case may be, you cannot go there as a taxi because you’ll have no plates.”

The Road Traffic Controller encouraged members of the public to bring their grievances and complaints of any public service driver to the Road Traffic Department, ensuring that their matter will be heard.

The Code of Conduct, a copy of which was provided digitally, listed several provisions for public service drivers to adhere to, including vehicle appearance, disorderly conduct, a ban on smoking and alcohol consumption, littering and solicitation.

The Code of Conduct also outlines the disciplinary procedure, which categorizes breaches of the code between “major” and “minor”.

Some “minor breaches” are: unlicensed sale of items, barbering, littering and non-compliance with dress codes, while “major breaches” can be: drunken or disorderly conduct, lewd behavior, public urination, verbal abuse, threats, and sale of illegal substances, among other breaches.

Comments

hrysippus 1 month, 2 weeks ago

And this means what exactly? And how will it be enforced? Just another exercise in futility.

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