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By Carlena Knight

Negotiations are underway with the public transportation union and the relevant authorities over the restructuring of the taxi fare system within the country.

Some months ago, the President of the United Taxi Association (UTA), Ian Joseph, told Observer he had made a call for the structure whereby persons are charged for using a taxi at the airport to be restructured, but according to Joseph, negotiations are now underway and have been positive thus far.

Presently, one overall fare is charged for all the passengers in a taxi, but what Joseph has recommended is “a more feasible structure”.

“Let me make this clear; the taxi drivers were never asking for an increase; we asked for a restructuring of the loading pattern. Instead of loading four people inside a taxi for one fare, we are just asking them to look at a more feasible structure. We are still in negotiations for that and I think we are in good place but that negotiation is being taken up by our umbrella body which is the Public Transportation Union, so really, it’s not just an airport thing now; they are looking at how to restructure the entire taxi fare system in the country,” Joseph explained.

He also sought to clarify recent reports regarding illegal operators who transport tourists.

In July, Joseph mentioned that his members at the VC Bird International Airport would in fact begin to inform tourists of the risk involved in being transported by illegal operators. He also posited that the onus is on taxi operators to ensure that the country and tourists remain safe, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of the illegal operators would not have gone through the necessary training to transport passengers.

However, the UTA president has clarified those comments and explained that there needs to be some sort of system in place that would indicate which vehicles are permitted to conduct business at the airport. He maintained that while he is not trying to take anything away from these operators, that there needs to be a structure in place to ensure the health and safety of not only tourists, but the country overall.

“That situation is still going on but I know for sure that there are meetings going on. Well, I was told by the transport board that they are meeting with the airport to see how we can have some order. It’s not that we have any issue about people requesting whatever sort of information, but what we are asking for is for them to regularize persons, so we know who is legal and who is illegal,” he said.

“We are not picking a fight against the guys who are providing transport. There are some people who request a certain type of transportation, so we are not fighting against them but we just want some regulations and not have some fly by night [operators] come and do something illegal.

Joseph also revealed that since the country welcomed its first set of visitors back in July, business has slowly been picking up but admitted that they have come to the understanding that it will never really go back to thelevels it had been before Covid.

He said, however, the taxi operators are grateful to be back out to work.

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