Permits for taxi operators at ports and airports in Dominica

letter to the editorDear Editor,

This letter addresses the ongoing concerns in reference to Mr. Bardoille’s public statement, re-Dominica News Online, release date July 5th, 2016.
Mr. Bardoille, CEO of the Dominica Air and Seaport Authority (DASPA), has expressed vehemently that action would be sought against persons plying for hire, who are not registered as permit holders. He cites the (Charles-Douglas) Melville Hall Airport Regulations Chapter 47.01.

Airport Regulations Chapter 47.01 are quite comprehendible in that the execution of enforcement is within the confines of the law.

Subsection 7 states “No person shall solicit for any purpose at the airport without the permission of the airport manager.”

Subsection 8 states “No person shall operate for hire any taxicab or omnibus or other vehicle carrying passengers within the airport without the approval of the airport manager and upon such terms and conditions as he may prescribe.”

Subsection 15 states “No person shall operate any motorised equipment on the taxi tracks or loading platform of the terminal building or the aircraft landing area except –
(a) Persons assigned to duty thereon;
(b) Persons authorized by the airport manager.”

Subsections 18 and 20 are equally important when making clear that taxi and omnibus drivers, along with other drivers, are to be governed by the said regulations which give authority to the airport manager to set out guidelines for the smooth and secure operation of the airport.

We must however agree that this statement by Mr. Bardouille has caused some serious and valid concerns within the local taxi operating community.
This has raised issues as to the relevancy and modernity of the law as it stands, and has highlighted areas which may need reform. We therefore have addressed previously sought-after clarification on some of the following areas.

1. PROCEDURE FOR ISSUANCE OF PERMITS: The procedure by which permits are applied for and approved needs to be explicit, not just to new taxi permit-holder registrants but the general public as well. The approval for taxi permit applications should not fall to the ports manager alone, but from time to time, a board including taxi drivers and other public members, should meet to review and approve applications. Included within the application is a right, if refused a taxi permit, to seek out and obtain reasons for refusal, and a further right to arbitration.

2. LENGTHS AND COSTS OF PERMITS: The costs of obtaining a permit should be nominal and standardized, but should be categorized into seaport permits and airport permits. It should not be exploited as a means to a revenue source, but should be merely for compliance purposes. All permit holders, as is the case, should have expiration timeframes. However, reminders need to sent out to holders before expiration dates.

3. PERMIT RENEWAL: Permit holders should be granted an equal opportunity for authorization renewals, regardless of prior sanctions for delinquency or non-compliance. Holders in violation of the law should have such matters dealt with separately. Every case is unique in that, leniency may be granted in some instances to drivers in accumulation of arrears to obtain a permit, while being denied in other cases. Personal bias should have a zero factor in granting such decisions.

4. AIR/SEA PORT PERMITS: As stated above, port permits should be categorized granting authorization as an airport or seaport taxi operator. Upon successful application, but prior to obtaining a sea or airport permit, authorized holders should be made to attend workshops unique to each operating environment. Operators should be assessed on their fitness for holding such permits, but such assessments should not disqualify them as permit holders. Taxi operators not holding permits, should not be allowed to ply for trade (except for exceptional circumstances) at either sea and/or airports.

5. DESIGNATED AREAS: Port infrastructure should be upgraded to be more compatible to taxi operators. For instance with regards to the Charles-Douglas Airport, taxi lanes should be created some ways out before terminating at strictly enforced, taxi pick up/drop off points, or public engagement areas. All public engagement areas should be given first access rights to arriving/departing passengers. Taxis parked in such public engagement areas should have their permits clearly visible on their windshields. Public engagement areas should be clearly marked as such, and gated off from other vehicular operating areas in all ports.

6. IDENTIFICATION OF AUTHORISED: Port permits should be clearly visible on the windshields of vehicular operators for port security and law enforcement to see. Taxi operators could also be issued copies for lanyard purposes.

Dominica is a small country and taxis are limited in numbers. They also work on their own time schedules with no stipulation from higher authorities as to when they must work individually. The service can therefore be sporadic. If a licensed ‘taxi driver’ who has no airport permit were to be approached by a client, by phone or directly while on the road, with this client needing to go to the airport urgently.

Suppose further that this client is late for a flight and is facing an emergency situation, is it reasonable under the present economic climate being endured, and considering all the facts, to expect that the taxi driver should turn away this opportunity to make some money and instead call for a member of the more privileged few to make the effort and come out to work? How realistic does this sound?

In cases like these, should measures be implemented to exempt (temporarily) such taxi drivers from the permit-holding law? While all tenets of the law should be enforced, it should not victimize and punitively sanction taxi operators. Taxi men and women greatly comprise the life force which sustains the tourism industry. The best outcome is a middle-of-the-road solution which seeks a win-win outcome for taxi operators and the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

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18 Comments

  1. forreal
    August 2, 2016

    wow Dominicans are laughable….at airports like tampa international you got to pay to upon entry..there is a toll both you enter which has your account number and charges you automatically, Dominicans who reside in the states who here on DNO denouncing this action by the port authority are just political baboons..you also pay toll fees even on the highways throughout the states

  2. August 2, 2016

    We Dominicans always want the most arrogant man in charge. Fortunately, Bardouille’s performance can be measured on a product lice cycle chart of cruise ship passenger arrivals and it is clearly a failing grade. Now in charge of airports we can also track that…..just need a couple more years of his ….

  3. Anthony P. Ismael
    August 1, 2016

    I am not surprised by the constant stream of foolishness that occurs in Dominica, without fail. This island nation is quietly becoming a “Gestapo State” run by a few strong men. Now we charging people to enter the airport. What next, a fee to breathe?

  4. viewsexpressed
    August 1, 2016

    I really do not understand what is being asked of the taxi drivers/company or the public easily accessing a public place to drop off/pick up a friend/family or to stop enroute to the North East of Dominica or east to have a breakfast, lunch or even run to the toilet. It is outrages the things we spend unnecessary time with to impose authority that is futile, inept or just to e seen to be doing something. My God, go find work to do and stop harassing Dominicans on their daily business. For three and a half flights coming you people wanna harass us Dominicans, best you people in charge go clean the streets. I have travelled the world and never witnessed, experienced this dictatorial nonsense. Does this nonsense apply also to the ever, very, exceptionally busy Canefield airport?
    What really is the developmental focus of Dominica and who is charge. I take it that inept people are running us down.
    What is wrong with us, or is it its obvious we have operating an inept, corrupt government.

  5. Dominican
    August 1, 2016

    Can we have a scheduled public bus service to Melville Hall please? The fares charged by the licensed taxi operators are too expensive for most ordinary Dominicans. The existing set-up is a monopoly, good for the taxi operators but not helpful for passengers.

  6. FORKIT
    July 31, 2016

    after the CEO announcement of this newly gestapo like law, i realized it was to take away bread from some taxis drivers who are openly anti government, yet we say we are democratic. Yesterday i saw a permit, issued to a friend of mine who i would describe as a person who could drive very well because of his love for vehicles but is somewhat slow in his ability to have a basic conversation with anyone and may not be able to even read, because of this he is quite shy… i wonder how are they chosen for this ambassador at large like job or is it a minister who send the names for approval to MR BIG BOSS, BARDO.

  7. Reasoning
    July 30, 2016

    Taxis should be lined up and go on turns,instead of Taxi Drivers harassing or soliciting passengers.Everything on this little island is back to front upside down and unorganized.For this reason visitors to the island are not encouraged to go back to this illgoverned island.Visitors have complained to me and made comments like,”This island is not ready for tourism.”

  8. Favoured
    July 30, 2016

    The law is very clear on”soliciting” and operations. To solicit and to carry out specific operations one must have the required authorization. The law is not arbitrary to suggest that persons entering the airport are doing so to solicit and or carry out operations. Many airports around the world are public and in instances tourist attractions and therefore lots of people enter airports for leisure and pleasure, to eat at restaurants, to view airplane arrivals/departures etc. It is very presumptuous to say that my entry into the the public side / commercial side of an airport with a hired vehicle is for purposes of soliciting and or to carry out business. My hired vehicle may also serve as my leisure and family transport when off duty. To assume that because I am an H; I am here to solicit is very unreasonable. I think the transport board should mandate that taxi and hired vehicles carry ” off duty” signs when not at work. That will help authorities and the public.

  9. forreal
    July 29, 2016

    excuses excuses…in more developed countries these rules are implemented…the person writing this letter if have such knowledge of taxi operations,he or she should know that there has to be a taxi association to organize,supervise and control the operations at the airport or port transactions,one point the person did not emphasize on,is should there an accident and death to a person being transported by a person other than,according to the writers ill informed comment,the privileged few,seriously!!! this is your conclusion,anyway god for bids who will be held liable…boy I can see Dominica’s development is going to remain at the crossroads,we are to ignorant

  10. Jen
    July 29, 2016

    Dominica has the only airport in the world which has a guard gate in the entrance of the airport grounds. On entrance, you are required to pay $1 tax even if you are dropping off someone. Then we ask what is wrong with our Dominica. But we must refer to people like the CEO and his unintelligent and uninventive trends creating embarrassment for our country.

    I was stopped at the airport one early morning on my way to catch a flight. The security officer asked what business i had at the airport. I am yet to answer his ridiculous question. The same day, a bus driver was charged $20 for entering the airport to drop off a friend.

    The irony of this: The CEO of Ports is also the Chairman of DDA, our tourism wing. Not saying he is the reason why Dominica tourism is on the decline, but do not expect it to increase either.

    • Favoured
      July 30, 2016

      It is not an offence to have a check point at the entrance of your airport or to pay a toll. Whereas iDominica charges a toll to enter it does not unlike North America and other European countries charge a toll to cross any of its many bridges. Countries may choose unique ways in raising revenues. In the case of the airport booth serves two purposes I think 1) as a potential security check point if the security levels at the airport is heightened for any reason and 2) as a source of revenue. My issue is who decides and how is it arrived at that my entry into the airport compound with a hired vehicle is for the purposes of soliciting and or to carry airport operations as outlined in the law. It can’t be letf to the whims and fancy of any individual to do so;to my mind be deemed arbitrary and be subjected to litigation. My right to own a vehicle and to enter public places in order to carry out legitimate and personal errands may be an issue the court may have to decide on.

    • Such are the ignorance which goes on in the country that must be exposed; such are the things people should exposed on the Internet. When visitors come to the country, and observe that type of backwardness, they leave with the impression “only in Dominica!”

      They leave and tell their friends; who may be interested in visiting; but learning about this robbery and victimization of the struggling taxi driver, that may be a deterrent; as simply as it may seem.

      The alternative, is everybody refuse to pay that dollar; refuse to take passengers go pass that stupid gate house. Oh what a thing! How much longer are Dominicans going to remain stupid; and tolerate this backwardness which overwhelms our country!

      ……….. How the hell someone should be subjected to answer a stupid question as “what business someone has at the airport?” If that was ask of me I would respond by…

      • How the hell someone should be subjected to answer a stupid question as “what business someone has at the airport?” If that was ask of me I would respond by saying I am going to visit “with their mother!”

        That question is an insult to even an illiterate individual, therefor the response to the questioner must be an insult too!

    • Uknowit
      August 1, 2016

      It is no longer a$1.it is now $20 for a day pass.thr only air where one is charged to go in.what a country

      • One way or the other that is highway robbery; no different from a common thief holding a gun to someone’s head and stealing their money!

        That is sucking the blood of the common poor in the country; and by every means reveling to the rest of the world how primitive, and poverty stricken is Dominica! I suggest an alternative to the guard house, that I will repeat because it incendiary, so my other alternative should be that no taxi driver should drive pass that gate; hence, only Skerrit would pay when he is hustling past it to run out of the island on devious, and clinical business.

        Drop the passengers at the gate, and let them walk the rest of the way to the terminal building. Anything crooked, anything illegal can be legitimately derailed by the people; it is time that the people teach Skerrit a lesson; government should not be allowed to suck the blood of the poor as the Indian doctor of nothing is doing to the people

  11. UDOHREADYET
    July 29, 2016

    Its about time!!!

  12. Concern Citizen
    July 29, 2016

    This two paragraph is the bottom line of the issue at hand.
    Dominica is a small country and taxis are limited in numbers. They also work on their own time schedules with no stipulation from higher authorities as to when they must work individually. The service can therefore be sporadic. If a licensed ‘taxi driver’ who has no airport permit were to be approached by a client, by phone or directly while on the road, with this client needing to go to the airport urgently.

    Suppose further that this client is late for a flight and is facing an emergency situation, is it reasonable under the present economic climate being endured, and considering all the facts, to expect that the taxi driver should turn away this opportunity to make some money and instead call for a member of the more privileged few to make the effort and come out to work? How realistic does this sound?

    • You know all you are commenting there does not make much sense. I agree that all over the world, taxi drivers do have to pay for a permit to operate at all International Airport (this is not to say there is an International Airport in Dominica).

      That is legitimate: here in Los Angeles they must belong to an association; when one arrives at LAX, the taxies are in line; assured of a job for the day. Before that Taxi takes off with a passenger, some authority knows to which address the taxi driver is taking the passenger, and you the passenger knows how much it should cost you on arrival; though the meter commenced running by the time the car moves.

      There is nothing wrong with a permit to operate, but this crap about gate at entry in Dominica, is something design to rub the poor, that should not be tolerated.

      It is one thing for parasites, and puppets like Bradoille to talk a bunch nonsense about law, however the stupid law and people like him helps keep the country backward,…

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