Antigua & Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB) said it will be looking into the feasibility of Uber-like operations for the country.
Hubert Jarvis said that the operations in other Caribbean countries have not been researched as yet by the board.
“We haven’t really done a proper assessment as to how this Uber thing works in other islands. On the face of it, I would like to retain what we currently have, so I am in support of what the taxi association says.”
Earlier this week, members of two major local taxi associations said they will not support the establishment of Uber operations in Antigua & Barbuda.
Gregory “Driftwood” Athill, who manages hotel operations out of the Antigua National Taxi Association, believes that Antiguans are more than capable of running the sector on their own.
“We as Antiguans need to understand that we have to build from the inside out. We are tired of people coming in and trying to corporatise everything for their benefit and we are not going to accept that.
“I think that Antiguans over the years have been proven as ambassadors, doing our taxi service. There are little hiccups here and there and little changes that need to be made, but I think we are doing a good job and we are not going to allow any outside company to come in and dominate,” he said.
He also highlighted that due to the size of the country, having Uber operations may not be feasible and may negatively affect the livelihoods of local taxi drivers.
“There are 90,000 people here. Uber is mostly used in large cities. We have so many taxi associations around that we have taxis attached at every hotel, seaport and in St John’s.”
The Public Relations Officer of United Taxi Association, Ian Joseph agreed with Athill and said that there are certain systems that are not yet in place to support Uber functioning at its best.
“I think it would be difficult to incorporate it into our society. Like what Driftwood said, it’s more for fast paced cities where people want to plan ahead. In the big cities, they have address systems. [In Antigua] you still have to tell the ambulance to turn left by the tamarind tree.”
However, Jarvis said that despite this, the Transport Board would continue to look into how to increase the quality of taxi services that already exist in Antigua & Barbuda.
“I’m inclined to side with them, but let’s not cast a stone either. We will just have to rationalise our operations as we go along.”
In the meantime, OBSERVER media reached out to Jamol Pilgrim, the owner of a local Uber-like service called ‘Pick Me Up 268’. However, Pilgrim indicated that neither he nor his organisation has any comments to make at this time.
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