MPs passed legislation granting West End Development Corporation (Wedco) powers to control taxi drivers and minibus operators in the Royal Naval Dockyard, particularly during the cruise ship season.
The new Bill allows Wedco’s traffic officers to enforce “moving violations and parking infractions” through more regulation, control and management of traffic of traffic in Dockyard.
Transport Minister Zane DeSilva told MPs on Friday that the “reported passenger dissatisfaction in transportation at Bermuda’s cruise ship ports, especially at Dockyard when two or more ships are in port”, was no secret.
At the height of the season he said: “There could be up to 8,000 passengers, plus the ships’ crews in the area looking for public transportation.
“There is a ground transportation area at the port where taxis, minibuses and limousines ply for business, pre-arranged tours and beach shuttles,” he said.
“Wedco has only three traffic coordinators who manage the area and facilitate the safe and efficient movement of passengers.
“They interact with operators of the public service vehicle and passengers, who they direct to relevant transport options.
“They also monitor and manage the flow of traffic through the area and at a nearby staging area for overflow vehicles.”
While noting that “the ground transportation area is suitably appointed with proper signage”, he said it “tends to get a bit chaotic when there are thousands of visitors trying to move at the same time and public service vehicle operators are vying for customers”.
“The traffic coordinators are challenged with managing the behaviour of the public service vehicle operators because they have no legal powers and, as such, the operators can ignore their instructions and at times has led to antisocial behaviour,” said Mr DeSilva.
Up until last year, he said up to four Transport Control Department (TCD) traffic officers were assigned to Dockyard daily when cruise ships were in port.
But TCD redeployed resources in 2018 and its traffic officers assisted Wedco only when at least five ships were docked.
“The main objective of this Bill is to appoint traffic officers who have the same powers as TCD traffic officers to control traffic and deter illegal parking,” said the Minister.
MPs also passed the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2019, which classifies the crew of superyachts as “special category persons” under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 in relation to transit and cruising permits.