The Soufriere Taxi Association is in dire straits.
According to its executive, that’s because it is facing a myriad of problems which have already led to a significant reduction of its members.
But while the association is grappling with problems, which from all indications appear to be a herculean task for it to deal with, some individual taxi drivers in Soufriere say they are doing well.
The Soufriere Taxi Association, which over 20 years ago had over 60 members, now has only 12.
Some years ago, it was basically owned by a businessman of the community who organized tours for the association. However, recently he took full control of his business and bought a few coasters to do the tours.
This has severely affected the association, which now relies mainly on Carnival Sails for tours.
According to the association’s vice president, Alphonso Abraham, that’s just one of the many problems the association is forced to endure.
“Right now the “TX” plates means nothing… There are a lot of young guys who do taxi with “H” plates, “M” plates, “P” plates…all types of plates, and no one is stopping them,” Abraham, told this reporter in an interview.
He accused tour operators of encouraging such activity, claiming that they offer minibus drivers tours and pay them whatever they feel like.
According to Abraham, when the tourists come to Soufriere, they have no time to spend money in the town, which compounds the already terrible situation.
“They (tourists) go to the Sulphur Springs, MorneCoubaril Estate and back to the boat. They don’t have time to patronize the small businesses in the town,” he lamented.
In a separate interview with the president of the association, Simon Abraham, he said Soufriere is being described as the “bread basket” of St. Lucia, but his association is not getting anything from the basket.
“The tourist dollar is not circulating in Soufriere,” he lamented.
According to Abraham, the only boat which they rely on for tours sometimes comes to Soufriere with such a small number of tourists, that occasionally only one taxi is enough to do the tours.
He added that the boat shares its tours with another taxi driver, which makes an already bad situation worst.
“Look: my coasters are just parked there doing nothing,” he said, pointing to the coasters, which from at a glance appeared to be hardly on the road.
He said the association has made a desperate attempt to obtain more trips but to no avail.