Taxi Union Embraces CPI Proposal

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Front row from left to right – Craig Tony Gomez, CPI Director; Wesley Ferguson, Bahamas Taxi Cab Union President; Gerald Strachan, CPI President and Sulayman Khalfani, Bahamas Taxi Cab Union Secretary. Back row from left to right – Robert Pantry, CPI Director; Russell Benford, Vice President Government Relations, Americas at Royal Caribbean Cruises and Tim Blackenship, manager of Moffat & Nichol.

Leaders of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union said that the Port of Nassau Partnership’s proposal for the development of the Nassau Cruise Port shows a commitment to partnering with port stakeholders. These comments followed a recent meeting and presentation with the Partnership’s local and international principals.

“From the presentation, we can say that this group has met our basic requirements. One: we will still be operating near Festival Place. Two: we are not shut out of the port. Most cruise ports are like a fortress or compound where operators are like ‘we’ll let you interact with the tourists when we feel like it,’” said Wesley Ferguson, recently elected President of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union.

“The presentation we saw is an open concept. We want to be leaders and not followers. Let’s let our port show other ports how to treat the taxi drivers and other business owners who deal with the visitors. Let’s show them that taxi drivers and cruise port operators can operate like partners, not like someone pushing you aside and telling you what to do,” Mr. Ferguson added.

According to Gerald Strachan, president of Cruise Ports International (CPI), which controls 60 percent of the Port of Nassau Partnership, the meeting was in keeping with his vision to engage key stakeholders, highlight key elements, and most importantly, hear the stakeholders’ concerns. The end goal is to see how best to accommodate concerns should his group’s proposal be successful.

“The Bahamas Taxi Cab Union is one of the oldest unions in the country and we acknowledge that its members are integral to the successful operation of the cruise port. So we want to ensure that we have an ongoing dialogue with them, even now. We want them to know who we are and exactly what we have planned to support their businesses,” said Mr. Strachan following the recent meeting. CPI Directors Craig Tony Gomez and Robert Pantry also participated in the meeting.

Mr. Strachan added: “As a Bahamian-led group, it is important to let the taxi drivers know that they have a voice when it comes to what we’re proposing for the port and that our design definitely has their business in mind. What do they need? What is important to them? How can we work together to design the best possible cruise port that operates at a high, global standard? The key word here is together.”

Representing the Cruise Line Group, which controls 40 percent of the Partnership, were Marie McKenzie, Vice President, Global Ports and Caribbean Government Relations at Carnival Corporation, and Russell Benford, Vice President Government Relations, Americas at Royal Caribbean Cruises. The cruise group comprises four leading cruise companies – including Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line – which represents more than 90 percent of cruise traffic to Nassau.

Also participating in the presentation was Tim Blackenship, a manager at Moffat & Nichol. The Partnership proposes to hire the engineering firm which specializes in cruise destination infrastructure and terminal facilities. Mofatt & Nichol’s cruise and maritime destination project experience in The Bahamas include: The Marina at Atlantis, Hurricane Hole, Ocean Club, Arawak Cay, Baker’s Bay, Castaway Cay, Coco Cay, British Colonial Hilton, Baha Mar, Royal Island, Andros Island, Rose Island, Our Lucaya, and Emerald Bay.

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