But first around 100 licenses will be issued – Pantophlet: moratorium on bus and taxi licenses

POSTED: 11/15/12 1:06 PM

St. Maarten – Between 60 to 70 taxi licenses and 25 to 30 bus licenses will issued within the coming weeks to “local St. Maarten people,” Minister of Transport Romeo Pantophlet said yesterday at the weekly Council of Ministers press conference.

He said that since he took office he has not issued any taxi licenses but for quite some years locals had been applying for taxi licenses and they were not granted.

“We all know the reason for that. We are not fools but the government has changed. This government has a different vision and will be issuing a number of taxi and bus licenses to some people.”

Pantophlet gave two reasons for issuing the licenses; increased passenger activity and to reopen the process for people who had applied for licenses but were not fairly treated.

“There was no record of some people who claimed to have applied. Some of them even had to reapply because files were shredded when the government left office recently in May,” he said.

He added that within the next 18 months, the Princess Juliana International Airport will evolve into a regional and international hub bringing people to St. Maarten to connect to other parts of the world.

“The increase in flights and stay over passengers is going to be tremendous.”

Based on bookings for cruise passengers that are expected to be in the vicinity of 2 million next year and increased yachting activity, additional taxi services will be necessary, Pantophlet believes.

Earlier this week, the Dutch St. Maarten Taxi Association submitted letters of concern to the governor and prime minister about over saturation in the transportation industry because of the more than 360 taxi permits that are out already. The association also questioned the procedures of issuing taxi permits and the economic advice on such.

Pantophlet said that he only received a letter requesting a meeting with the association on Tuesday in an informal manner and he will be meeting with them to discuss the expected increase in tourism.

He has assured that after the signing of these permits, a moratorium will be put in place.

“The advice is already on my desk and I have yet to sign it off so you can be assured that after that the shop will be closed off,” the minister said.

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