While defending the actions of the BVI Tourist Board, Director of the Taxi & Livery Commission Dameon Percival said he was the one who called police to the Road Town Ferry Terminal last Friday when a number of visitors were reportedly barred from travelling with livery company vehicles.
Livery companies are claiming that visitors were forced to travel by regular taxi if they did not have documentation to prove they had prepaid to use a livery service.
In an interview with BVI News about the issue, Percival said he opted to call for police assistance after he was informed by the Tourist Board about an incident that happened with irate livery operators at the ferry dock the day prior — May 16.
Percival said he was told the livery operators threatened to return to the location on Friday “in force”.
“I called one of my inspectors and I also then called the police for backup just in case it escalated to a point where I felt it would need police backup because these situations can get very bad,” said Percival, who explained that police intervention was particularly needed because livery company operators are known to assert themselves on to guests.
“The problem comes about when the persons (visitors) come and the [Tourist Board’s] port dispatcher would say ‘do you have prearranged transportation? ‘And the tourist would say ‘no, we want a taxi’. What then happens is that persons for these providers (livery operators) then step out and say ‘no, you are sailing [or staying] with us’. And this is what we are telling them: that is stepping over the bounds. You’re not supposed to do that,” Percival stated.
Let the dispatcher do their job
He continued: “Let the dispatcher do their job. When she sends the people to you then you will be fine and the law from 1993 (Section 21 of the Road Traffic Regulation) speaks to that. Where there is a line system or a dispatcher, they have to comply with the rules of the dispatcher.”
The Director also said companies have been asked on numerous occasions to ensure their guests are issued with a voucher prior to their arrival. The voucher is needed to prove that guests have prepaid for a livery company service.
“The issue is that our law says that the person is supposed to provide a voucher. We at the Commission have met with them (livery companies) and told them the voucher doesn’t necessarily need to be a piece of paper. It could be saying something in your email, something on your phone, just something to that there is an actual official pre-arranged thing,” Percival told BVI News
And while commenting on claims that dispatchers force tourists to use specific transportation, Percival made it clear that, in accordance with the territory’s laws, tourists have the right to decide their transportation of choice.
Meetings to be held to rectify the issues
The Director said once a Chairman is appointed to the Taxi & Livery Commission, meetings will be held with taxi, livery, port, Tourist Board, and police officials to put an end to the long-existing issue.
Percival said he believes the issue may develop into something more serious if it is not addressed soon.
“The last thing I personally would want is any real altercation in front of the guests and based on where tempers are, it seems like it might be heading there,” Percival said.
And with the major Buju Banton concert expected to bring in some 8,000 guests into the territory in the week of June 15, the Director is hoping all matters are resolved in time to ensure a smooth transition for guests through the territory’s ports of entry.
The preceding is the second of a two-part story
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