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Taxi drivers say business at a standstill

At 3 p.m. yesterday, Leon Williams, 48, a taxi driver, had already been waiting at Lynden Pindling International Airport for 12 hours, with his first customer of the day still nowhere in sight.

“Today was extremely slow because of the announcement made yesterday,” he said.

“[W]e’re at a standstill. Once you aren’t getting American flights in, you’re looking at Canadian flights maybe once or twice a week and I don’t think I remember if there are any European flights. There might be some Caribbean flights.”

On Sunday, following the largest surge in COVID-19 cases recorded in The Bahamas since the start of the pandemic, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the indefinite suspension of commercial flights from the United States.

The announcement came less than three weeks after the country’s borders reopened on July 1 – more than three months after they were first closed as a result of the pandemic.

Fourth in the queue, Williams said he would soon give up for the day – his chances of a fare diminishing as the time passed.

“Right now, I’m fourth out, and I’m probably only going to give myself another 30 to 45 minutes and that will be that,” he said.

The father of two said even before the announcement, many drivers were only getting one job per day.

“We probably had about one job per day,” he said.

“Only if you decide to come out extremely early in the morning, then maybe you could get two. It’s according to how many people come in for that day. If it’s under 500, that’s basically just one.”

Clayton Moss, a taxi driver in his 70s, said business has been terrible, and suggested that more thought should have gone into the decision.

“It’s not a good feeling because most of our traffic comes from the US,” he said.

“And to be in the position that no US flights are coming in, it’s extremely crazy and difficult.

“The decision that was made in that regard, I think corona is here for a while and we’ve got to work through it. But to totally shut it, it’s affecting the whole country.

“The whole country is crippled, paralyzed. Tourism is our thing. So, I don’t know if the thoughts were properly analyzed, and I don’t know how long it will be for.”

Moss said he had been in line at the airport since 10 a.m. and had no customers for the day.

“The chart says about 470 persons are scheduled to come in,” he said.

“So, it’s tough.”

Third in line, Bernard Frazer said he was at the airport waiting since 4 a.m., but it had yet to pay off.

“I’m waiting on a job,” he said.

“The next flight coming in about 4 o’clock.

“I might get one off that. I’m third out.”

A taxi driver for more than 30 years, Frazer said he has never seen anything like this.

He said providing for his family over the past few months has been difficult, but National Insurance has helped him.

“National Insurance is helping out a little bit,” he said.

“They’re really helping out.

“[It’s] a little bit, not much.”

Frazer questioned why the borders were reopened in the first place.

“The competent authority made the decision,” he said.

“I can’t make it for him. He should have thought about this before he opened the borders. He knew what was going to happen.”

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