By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
With a shutdown of the tourism sector because of the coronavirus pandemic, local taxi and livery operators are reeling from the impact.
Local tour operator Julio ‘Sam’ Henry said the transportation-for-sector, which depends heavily on tourism, usually has what he described as a ‘slow season’. But with major disruptions from the COVID-19 crisis, he is predicting that the duration of this slow period might double this year.
“Normally, we would get three months, four months of the slow season. Now, we are probably going to end up with a six, seven months of slow season,” Henry said in an interview with BVI News on Tuesday, April 21
However, Henry and other like-minded operators have turned adversity into opportunity and are channelling their services into other areas.
“I have ads on Facebook advertising delivery and taxi service. I am [also] working with the government to do some of their deliveries,” he said.
Henry described this move as him simply thinking ‘outside the box’.
Opportunities to transport food and essential workers
Former President of the Taxi Association, Karl Scatliffe is another local taxi operator who has now joined the limited ranks of persons providing essential services as the territory remains under COVID-19 lockdown.
He told BVI News that he has been transporting food and essential workers during this time.
“I am on the road every day because I took the opportunity to drive some of the securities and some essential workers,” Scatliffe stated.
Taxi operators great for delivery, we know the areas
He said the pandemic is affecting everyone in the transportation-for-hire sector. He, however, noted that opportunities are available for drivers.
Scatliffe, who was an unsuccessful candidate in the February 2019 General Elections, said one such example would be for taxi operators to offer delivery services to supermarkets.
“We just about know where all the areas are. It’s just for us to know the people it is going to, and it could be a job for some people. Every taxi driver is not going to be able to do it, but it gives the opportunity to some who really wants to do something besides staying at home,” Scatliffe reasoned.
The political aspirant then called for talks to be had between the government and all local sectors to provide feedback and to brainstorm ideas on the way forward.
Happy to be home
Meanwhile, another local taxi driver, Romeo Cameron said despite missing the daily interactions with the tourists, he is relishing in his time away from the hustle.
“I am a law-abiding citizen, and honestly, I don’t have any problems with it (the lockdown). I am just following the instructions and staying at home. I’m not a superman. I prefer to be alive,” he stated.
Cameron is only engaged with the taxi service during the active tourist season and is also involved in the construction field. These days, he entertains himself by listening to music and spending time with family.