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AOPT to seek compensation for Heroes Square taxi operators


Jonteau Coppin

AOPT to seek compensation for Heroes Square taxi operators
There were very few taxis at Heroes Square ahead of the Lighting Ceremony earlier this week. (Picture by Reco Moore)

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President of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), Roy Raphael, says they are moving ahead with plans to take the Government to court over compensation.

The taxi drivers who operate from Heroes Square, The City, had to move on Tuesday prior to and during the annual Sagicor Lighting Ceremony in Bridgetown. This could happen a few more times this month as the Square will be the site for other activities.

Some of the drivers say each time they are moved, it puts them out hundreds of dollars.

“It’s time for us to let decisions be taken. We have 120 taxi operators in the Square who may be entitled to their compensation and each person can work as much as $200 a day or more. So we are just sending a warning to the Attorney General Office as well as the Ministry of Transport. We need to have a place to work where people can come look for us on events and on Saturdays which are our busiest time,” Raphael said.

The president’s statement comes just mere weeks after Government and stakeholders in the transportation sector signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on October 21. The MOU, for the Future of Public Transportation in Barbados, was signed by Government entities and numerous private organisations which represent PSV owners and drivers.

AOPT to seek compensation for Heroes Square taxi operators
A taxi operator watches during the set-up for the Sagicor Lighting Ceremony in Heroes Square. (Picture by Reco Moore)

Taxi driver Adrian Clarke said that missing out on events like the Lighting Ceremony puts him back hundreds of dollars.

“It’s not fair, this can’t be fair. It would be a good thing (if I receive compensation) because I feel like if I was allowed to stay there I would have made around $300. People also do a lot of shopping around this time, so to have to move disadvantages us from making any kind of money.”

Another driver, Enson Bowen, said that while the situation was not good for taxi drivers, he was not particularly worried about the situation.

“It doesn’t really impact me because I depend more on phone calls. I usually print cards and give to people and then they just call me. Parking here (Heroes Square) and looking for a job is not really my thing. In the beginning when I started out this would have worried me, but now this won’t worry me. “

Not everyone in this industry agrees with the sentiments of Raphael and the AOPT.

President of Heroes Square Taxi Association Mark Layne says that despite him not being informed of any decisions to move the drivers, his organisation has no interest in being involved in any legal case and would like to emphasise the separation of the two entities.

Layne, who has been president since 2008, said: “We have got a very good organisation going. We don’t need Mr Raphael to rattle the cages. All of the points he is making, we have made with the Ministry before already since 2008.

“This present administration has been communicating with us pretty good, and in fact, this is the administration we have had most of our achievements in terms of working relations and getting things done without a shadow of a doubt.”

Layne said that he was willing to meet with Raphael to flesh out the issue. (JC)