New taxi fee proposed agenda point

POSTED: 05/25/11 1:24 PM

French want discussion on taxis, busses

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT – President of the Collectivity Frantz Gumbs has invited Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Franklin Meyers to a meeting “in the near future to discuss transportation issues. The invitation, part of letter dated May 24, follows a telephone call between the gentlemen and a May 23 letter that Meyers sent to Gumbs.
The meeting is being called because taxi drivers from the Dutch side have objected to paying a 150 euro fee to the Collectivity. All four taxi associations on the Dutch side view it as additional taxation and refused to pay. Meyers has supported their objection and said the measure will strain the historic cooperation between the two sides.
As part of his letter Gumbs proposes that parties discuss issues that relate to both taxis and busses. There is also an invitation to add points to the agenda in advance so that technocrats can prepare potential solutions.
Under the main point “Taxis” the French want to discuss the new fee, a joint policy on gypsies, the presentation of new registration identification and license plates for French taxi driver, complaints of discrimination against drivers at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise facility who do not wear the orange shirts that identify members of the Dutch St. Maarten Taxi Association and putting 10 drivers from the French side at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise facility. The 10 drivers would replace others who were allowed to operate at the harbour.
Under the main point “Busses” the French want to discuss a proposal by the Collectivity’s Transportation Service that relates to organizing and scheduling the busses on the international routes between the two sides and creating a prohibition that disallows bus drivers from the Dutch side from transporting tourists to and from Orient Bay and other tourism destinations on the French side.
“The seriousness of these issues is what led us to begin technical discussions with your staff on December 6, 2010 and further led to a request for meetings with you in February and again in March of this year as well as our most recent letter to your government on May 13, 2011 (see attached annexes). I believe that government has a responsibility to institute policies that are for the greater good of its population. As governments on the two sides of this twin island we have been able to negotiate, consult and implement joint policies throughout our history,” Gumbs wrote in his letter as he lamented the tone of the discussion.
“Negotiations have always been professional, courteous, and respectful of the laws that govern either side and not through sound bites and articles in the press. As proof of this cordial relationship we are currently conducting discussions with your government on practical issues such as water, garbage disposal, driver’s licenses, disaster management and health concerns. I hope that now that we have gotten off on the wrong foot on this issue we can now get down to the serious work of resolving issues and taking care of our people through serious discussions,” Gumbs stated.
His letter also pays respect to transport operators.
“Our professionals from both sides have invested themselves in their trades through training, payment of required operational fees and the decision to professionalize their industries. We as government can do nothing less than support their efforts. These men and women are our natural ambassadors to visitors who frequent our island and are the guarantors of safe passage to thousands of our citizens on their way to work, home, school or leisure activities,” Gumbs wrote.

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