The proposed introduction of rental cars for tourists vacationing in Bermuda dominated local news headlines this weekend from the streets to the House of Assembly.
Proceedings on Parliament Hill were brought to an abrupt end on by House Speaker Randolph Horton in the midst of a Motion to Adjourn on Friday night.
This after taxi drivers, minibus operators and concerned residents gathered outside the House of Assembly (HOA) earlier to announce a withdrawal of labour.
The impact of that industrial action however, turned out to be minimal. And by Sunday taxi drivers were back in operation. But not before calls for the resignation of the Minister who put the plan to introduce mini rental cars forward.
Both Opposition MPs Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, and Shadow Minister of Tourism Jamahl Simmons called for Senator Michael Fahy’s resignation, the same Minister at the centre of the controversial Pathways to Status initiative.
Mr Scott told MPs during the Motion to Adjourn that he was “called every name but my Christian one by the Government in 2014” when he talked about “how they wanted to bring in rental cars” to Bermuda. “Two years later, I can say that I had my facts straight. They owe me an apology,” he said.
He was also criticised by One Bermuda Alliance MP Glen Smith, who took issue with Mr Scott’s insinuation that his business, Auto Solutions may be engagied in “insider trading”.
Mr Smith told MPs that he has retained a lawyer to address what he termed “slanderous and potentially damaging remarks” by Mr Scott, who will be receiving a letter from Mr Smith’s attorney.
But it wasn’t until Mr Simmons rose to speak that Mr Horton shut down the proceedings.
Mr Simmons said: “I have listened to the cackling, the catcalling, the name-calling and the childish behaviour from an organisation that is supposed to be about elevating the conviction of our people.” It was at that point that Mr Horton adjourned the House until September 9th.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Michael Fahy extended a big ‘thank you’ to all those mini buses and taxis that remained on the road providing services to Bermudians and visitors alike”, as well “the Wedco and TCD transport officers for their commitment during the taxi disruption on Friday and Saturday”.
In a statement released on Sunday, he said: “I am looking forward to further discussions and believe we can find a way forward,” said Senator Fahy. “Throughout the weekend there was constant contact with the President of the BTOA for which I am grateful.
“I will shortly be reaching out to industry partners to form a stakeholder group as agreed to iron out a number of issues that I have heard about over the last few weeks in addition to review the Motor Car Amendment (No 2) Act 2016.”
Taxi drivers, mini bus operators and concerned residents gathered on Parliament Hill on Friday… where there was a heavy police presence of uniformed officers surrounding the House of Assembly.
A small motorcade of taxis took to the streets on Saturday. By Sunday taxis were back to work, but not before minibus operators came to the rescue of countless cruise ship passengers who arrived in port at the Dockyard this weekend.
What could have been potential transport chaos up at the West End was ultimately avoided despite industrial action by taxis.
Most of the taxi drivers and minibus operators working over the weekend who spoke with Bermuda Real all expressed the same sentiments.
The bottom line – while they would rather the rental car proposal was scrapped altogether, they all said protest action will not put food on their tables in the interim. And for them it was strictly a matter of making a living.
By Ceola Wilson