I don't see where it is benefiting us
Trelawny ground transport operators cite lack of business from 3-year-old Falmouth port
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — TRELAWNY-BASED ground transportation operators many of whom have acquired loans to purchase motor vehicles in anticipation of large volumes of work from the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier, are now complaining bitterly that they are being short-changed.
They claim that business for their vehicles from the three-year- old pier, constructed at a cost of $7.5 billion by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Port Authority of Jamaica, is woefully less than they have anticipated.
According to one operator of Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) Falmouth chapter, who spoke to the Observer West on terms of anonymity, most of the transportation business is going to the JUTA members of the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios chapters.
"We are not as organised like Ocho Rios and MoBay. After Ocho Rios and MoBay operators full, we get what lef," the disgruntled JUTA operator told the Observer West.
He expressed further frustration over the extended period of time it takes to receive payments from JUTA, for work done.
"When we get a work from JUTA they take long to pay us- up to all four months and the tourists pay upfront. So, why it take so long for us to be paid? When a man borrow money fi buy him bus the bank expect that you repay your loan monthly. So why can't they pay us promptly after we work?" he questioned.
Cecil Noble, also known as 'Bill' another member of the JUTA Falmouth chapter, also rued that despite a number of cruise vessels calling at the Falmouth port, little benefit is trickling down to the ground transportation operators, many of whom have been providing ground transportation in the tourism sector for decades.
"I don't see where it is benefiting us. Sometimes all two ships come in and you still can't get work," he lamented.
He also spoke against the authorities' practice of not allowing operators to negotiate with the tourists, who are not booked for tours, and who seek transportation to take them on short excursions such as beaches, shopping and restaurants.
"Police and white cap (courtesy corps) don't want you to talk to the tourists. And we were qualified by TPDCo (Tourism Development Company) to communicate with them. You have to be running up and down like hustler to get fi talk to them," he argued.
Just recently, disgruntled Jamaica Co-operative Automobile and Limousine (JACAL), JUTA, and Maxi tours members vented their disgust at a decision by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) to roster duties for transport operators at the Falmouth Pier, instead of allowing their respective organisations to do so on their behalf.
"They (PAJ) have taken over the dispatching role in Falmouth... we see they are now taking it over. Formerly we used to do it but now they have taken over and are rotating and so on," an irate Maxi member, Trevor Edwards revealed.
But, William Tatham, the vice-president of cruise shipping and marina operations at the Port Authority of Jamaica disclosed that the PAJ and their partners, the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines introduced the sequential rotation system in which "we incorporate the best practices around the world" for the Falmouth Pier.
He explained that the system was designed in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all the taxi- operators who do business at the Falmouth Port.
"We rotate them. Everybody get an equal opportunity to work. At the other ports it is the same faces over and over," Tatham explained.
He noted, however, that the Port Authority does not roster the pre-booked tours, "only the freelances, meaning cruise visitors who did not make arrangements for taxi services before disembarking the ships."