Described as a challenging year, particularly due to the pull out of Carnival cruise lines, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Combined Taxi Association (CTA), Jenner Guiste, sees 2011 as a year which also bore some benefit for taxi operators.
In an exclusive interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), Guiste said that the enforcement of restrictive laws on the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard (Bayfront) and the establishment of the Trafalgar Falls as a Premium site, effective today, are among these benefits.
“The new season opened in October and the movement at the Bayfront is doing very well. I think the premium site is working very well because we can get better prices to be able to move on the other sites on the island,” he said. “It gives the opportunity for the vendors in the Trafalgar area, because not only are we concerned about ourselves as taxi drivers, I think we concerned about every individual who survives from the industry.”
In giving a brief analysis of the CTA’s achievements for the year, Guiste could not hide from mentioning a steep decline in business due to the absence of Carnival Cruise lines and a barren off-season.
He also added, “A major drawback, among others, was the taxi drivers themselves not actually keeping up to what is expected of them.”
The PRO lamented that special training programs, which were scheduled to have taken place during the off-season, did not materialize because of the lack of resources and interest from taxi operators. According to him the programs were aimed at improving the delivery of taxi service in Dominica.
“We had to cut back some of our training due to the fact that we lacked resources, especially not having cruise ships during the off-season. We embarked on some hiking at the Waitukubili National Trail to get drivers acquainted with the national trail but that wasn’t so much of a success because taxi drivers did not show much interest in hiking the national trail,” he pointed out.
Even as he is satisfied with laws being enforced on the Bayfront, Guiste alluded to other legislative measures which cannot be executed as they have not been gazetted. In particular, the law which deals with inconsistent pricing for various sites. “This is also a problem for us because the transport board has had the prices before them for some time. We expected that to have the law already. We really wish in the New Year that can happen,” he said.
He advised, “I think generally taxi drivers need to realize that we have less ships this cruise ship season and they need to maximize on doing better pricing for tours.”
Guiste also appeal to taxi operators to change the ways in which they approach tourists. He said that the habit of waving and calling out guests is something that should not occur.
“I hope the drivers can stop it. Allow one person to speak to guests at any given time. And if you hear the guest tell one driver he or she is not ready, you should not seek to do business with that guest. If you did not hear then it’s different but I expect in the New Year our attitude can change towards the business,” he said.
“Maybe some of the laws that are given to the Discover Dominica Authority, they need to use some of them to make sure that taxi drivers can keep up the standard,” he suggested.
Another specific point of concern is soliciting tours where it is forbidden.
“I think mechanisms need to be put into place to stop that,” he said.
The PRO took the opportunity to thank all the members of the association and other stakeholders who made 2011 possible.
He extended holiday greetings to his fellow taxi men and women and urged them to make the following resolution, “I am going to be a different person in 2012. And if I was a very good person in 2011, I am going to seek to be a better person in 2012. And to ensure that whatever that I do in the cruise ship industry is something to uplift it, uplift myself, and for Dominica to get a better fair share of my input in this industry.”