Taxi drivers are calling on Government for long-term fix to the impasse at the Bridgetown Port in which taxis have been moved from their usual parking spaces.
Treasurer of the Bridgetown Port Taxi Services Limited, Vill Greaves, has said the “reprehensible” situation has been a “sour point” for taxi drivers, for over a decade.
For the second week in a row, taxi drivers have been asked to move from the parking lot, which they would usually share with port workers as the winter cruise season nears its peak.
Scores of taxi operators have since poured into the roadway outside the Port’s entrance, where they are slapped with tickets by traffic wardens.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Greaves accused port authorities of engaging in a longstanding pattern of treating taxi drivers like “second and third-class citizens”.
Taxi operators, many of whom are not registered to operate at the Port, have been parking indiscriminately in the area allotted for port workers, Barbados TODAY has learned.
While Greaves acknowledged that some unauthorized taxis were making things bad for the registered ones, he argued that with Barbados on the verge of a bumper tourist season, authorities needed to take the plight of transit operators more seriously.
“Nobody listens. From on high [Government] to the port management, nobody takes you on, so that is how taxi operators have felt for the longest time; as though they are second and third-class citizens in the whole tourism operations. I think we should be helping them to improve their lot in life,” he said.
Greaves indicated that decade ago, before Trevor’s Way became the well-manicured open space that it currently is, taxi operators would park parallel to the coastline.
“Then one smart person decided that they wanted to extend Trevor’s Way, to the exclusion of people who are looking for a daily living. So you’ve forced them to now park on the road and things like that; and it was sad.
“Nobody objected to them beautifying the whole area as it was part of the whole tourism package, but what was wrong with creating a nice atmosphere that the guys [taxi operators] could still drive down?” he asked.
Since then, he noted efforts were made to allow some operators to park their vehicles in the compound. But unregistered taxi drivers encroached on the port.
“When there’s a ship in the Port, you have an influx of taxi operators who are not seaport taxi operators coming down to ply, to get some of the business . . . . You’ve found that then authorized seaport taxis are parking in what is the workers’ compound and then cause problems for the workers themselves . . . . So the management has decided, this is foolishness.
“It is sad that it has come to this,” he said, indicating that registration fees had increased sharply over the past few months for taxi operators at the Port.
When Barbados TODAY contacted Divisional Manager for Corporate Development and Strategy at the Bridgetown Port, Karl Branch, he said he was in no position to comment on the matter.
But Greaves offered what he considers a simple solution in which a driveway is built along the stretch of Princess Alice Highway leading to the Port’s entrance.
“It doesn’t take much time to build a drive-way, you can do it quickly,” he said.
Greaves also suggested Government take seriously the idea of a taxi-operated park-and-ride system for transporting city workers to offices and stores to avoid “unnecessary clutter.”
“Taxi operators are legitimately looking for work and trying to get more foreign exchange into the country, so their issues should be given priority,” he declared.