taxi operators making their way out of the Port after successfully getting fares while one of the tour buses goes in.
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THE PRESIDENT of the Independent Taxis Union has poured cold water on suggestions by businessman Bernie Weatherhead that they should approach the cruise ships as a body.
Tony Downes said the taxi operators had neither the manpower nor the money to pursue such a venture.
Downes was responding to comments from Weatherhead, who owns Suntours ground transportation company.
Weatherhead had suggested the taxi operators band together and approach the cruise lines to secure business. However, Weatherhead noted the operators would have to secure $25 million in insurance.
But Downes contended that even if the operators managed to raise the money or manpower, the big tour operators would still win.
“They would overpower us. We don’t have the manpower like them to come into those things and we don’t have that type of money. We need help from Government,” Downes said.
He noted that whether there was one or four cruise ships in the Bridgetown Port, taxi operators still got the same amount of business.
Downes went on to say that there were times when the big tour operators had overbooked and taxi operators were asked to take up the excess.
“But then [the tour operators] want to tell us how much it is going to cost, and we have to say ‘no, no, this is what we do it for’. They want to control the whole thing,” Downes said, adding there were times when taxi operators could scrape jobs otherwise, “but it is not every day”.
Meanwhile, an independent taxi operator, who did not want to give his name, reiterated that things were hard for the drivers as they were not operating on a level playing field.
“‘Bout here is hell,” he said. “We here suffering. We got to fight to survive.”
He said he had managed to get one job that day – a trip to Bridgetown.
“[The visitors] coming off [are] walking. If ten people come off, nine walking and the one got a suggestion as to price.”
In addition, he said some tour operators were badmouthing the taxi operators, saying that they (the taxi operators) were unreliable – “that they take you places and don’t come back for you”.
“But there ain’t no unity among black people,” he said.
Recently approximately 3 500 tourists arrived in the island on board four cruise ships – Thomson Celebration (1 254), Windstar (200), Sea Dream (112) and the Noor Dam (1 916).