Established taxi operators who ply their trade from the Lower Broad Street Taxi Stand are upset that they are being barred from entering the gates of the Bridgetown Port even if there is bad weather or their passengers are disabled or aged.
They told Barbados TODAY they have been told they are not official port taxis and are therefore unable to enter.
Although they declined to go on the record, the drivers charged that they are forced to drop their cruise ships passengers off at the main gate to walk back in rather than give them the courtesy of a ride to the terminal building.
One taxi operator who goes by the name Spider told Barbados TODAY that his decision not to put four old ladies in the rain resulted in him receiving a verbal ban from the Bridgetown Port.
“The rain was falling, and I took four old ladies to the Bridgetown Port. One of them walked with a cane and they told me I had to put the persons in the rain. I said, ‘I am not putting the people out in the rain I will put them under the shed’ and they told me not to come back to the Bridgetown port,” he said, adding that taximen have been facing this problem for over a year now but it had deteriorated to the point that there is no compromise.
“About a year now, it is getting worse, rain or sun, old or not, wheelchair or not you have to let off the people outside of the Bridgetown port and that ain’t right,” Spider said.
However, Chief Executive Officer of the Bridgetown Port David Jean Marie said the policy with taxi operators has not changed. When contacted, he pointed out that the taxi operators are required to drop their passengers off on the outskirts of the Bridgetown Port.
“That is an established policy. That is what we have always done. We are reviewing our taxi operations but that is what we currently do. They can pick up on the outside and disembark outside,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that it is at the discretion of the port to determine whether in events of bad weather or someone with special needs they allow the taxi operators inside of the Bridgetown Port.
“But generally, they disembark outside of the port and walk that short distance,” Jean Marie said.
However, another taxi operator, who called himself Barry, charged that it is a case of blatant favoritism. He charged that only the private vehicles belonging to some of the bigger entities in the island are allowed to enter the Bridgetown Port.
“They tell us that we are not in the taxi body so we have to let the people out outside. In cases where we have bad weather we have customers saying the rain is falling, we do not want to get out by the gate. But the Port Authority does not care about that, so we have to put the people out of our vehicles like dogs and then they have a bad experience,” Barry explained.
His sentiments were shared by another driver who claimed that the officers at the Bridgetown Port advised tourists not to patronize their taxis as they are not taxi drivers.
“It’s a big problem with the port, big problem. We cannot get in the port. They telling the tourist that we are not taxi drivers. Every vehicle that goes in the port is marked Z, it is just that those men are paying something to go in there,” he offered.
“We are restricted from getting in. They told us that no Bridgetown taxis allowed. Operating taxi is a part of the industry, all of us come together in the tourist industry. So, I don’t understand that a taxi who bringing people to a ship inside, we have got to put them on the outside because ‘you are not a Port taxi’. I do not understand this at all,” he added.