BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 14, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has reassured taxi and tour operators that much is being done, in the safest possible way, to bring visitors back to the Federation’s shores, which will in turn generate increased business opportunities and revenues for all employed within the tourism sector.
This assurance was given earlier today (Thursday, October 14), when members of the Federal Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, met with representatives of the three taxi associations on St. Kitts to address a range of concerns taxi and tour operators have pertaining to the state of the sector since the return of cruise vessels to Port Zante.
The St. Kitts Taxi Association was represented by its president, Mr. Tyrone Richardson; the Liamuiga Taxi Association by its president, Mr. David Brandy, while Mr. Sylvester Hodge represented the St. Kitts Taxi Co-operative in his capacity as president.
Among the issues raised during the deliberations were opportunities for small taxi and tour operators, the bubble arrangement in place at Port Zante on days when cruise vessels are in port and challenges with the current dispensation system for taxi operators.
Prime Minister Harris indicated to the representatives at Thursday’s meeting that his Government is sensitive to the concerns of the taxi operators and continues to explore every possible measure to ensure taxi and tour operators can successfully ply their trade to earn a decent living.
The prime minister said, “We have had some positive exchanges here and there will be a need for follow ups on some of the matters in a more focused way now that some of the issues have been ventilated. I indicated that the Task Force is really a critical instrument in bringing the various entities together to ensure that we open up safely and as quickly as we can. We are in the critical part of the tourism [season] and we would want to have full participation of all persons. At the same time, we have to do it in a way that minimizes the risk of a spread of COVID.”
“We have seen how dramatically things can change and so we can’t lose sight of the fact that…our management of COVID, in large measure now, is going to be a judging part by the number of cases and our success with our vaccination rollout which will minimize the number of infections over a period of time, and we again engage your cooperation not just in having yourselves vaccinated but those in your associations,” Prime Minister Harris continued.
Commenting on the meeting, Mr. Sylvester Hodge said it was important that they, as leaders of the various associations, had an opportunity to speak directly to the highest levels of the Government.
“When you have the concerns of a membership coming at you, because you represent a body, you need to be able to have that dialogue with the persons who are in authority. This meeting satisfied I would say about 90 percent of the concerns that we had. We can now go back to our membership and speak to them with confidence that we would have met with the government entities and other responsible persons and there’s now light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mr. Hodge.
The president of the St. Kitts Taxi Association shared a similar opinion on the outcome of the meeting. He noted, “I’m very satisfied. I got a lot of information today that was not given to us before so I’m basically almost 100 percent satisfied. We’re now just waiting on a follow up so kudos to them. I appreciate what they did in the meeting.”
Mr. Brandy of the Liamuiga Taxi Association said he left Thursday’s meeting with a greater appreciation of the work being done by the Government in the interest of all taxi and tour operators.
He added, “I’m a bit relieved knowing that the Government really would have had plans for us, so to speak, rather than we thinking that they’re not doing anything. We now learn that they have our interest at heart and so we can go back to our members now to try to create some assurance that there is some light at the [end of] the tunnel. Based on the ship arrangement, we certainly would be able to see more taxi drivers getting work as tourism comes back.”
Joining the Cabinet members in Thursday’s meeting with the taxi operators were the Chair of the National COVID-19 Task Force, Mr. Abdias Samuel and Deputy Financial Secretary, Mrs. Sylvia Manning-Gumbs.