Surrey industry returns

photo

MINISTER of Transport and Housing Jobeth Coleby-Davis and 30-year Surrey driver George Pratt cutting the ribbon at the ceremony for the reopening of the Surrey industry. From left, Senator Darren Pickstock, Senator Barry Griffin, Bishop Helen McPhee, Mr Pratt, Mrs Coleby-Davis, House Speaker Patricia Deveaux, deputy director general of tourism and aviation Dr Kenneth Romero, and Bishop Walter Hanchell. Photos: Austin Fernander

By JADE RUSSELL

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

THE reopening of Nassau’s historic Surrey industry was held yesterday in Rawson Square.

Minister of Transport and Housing JoBeth Coleby-Davis in her remarks at the event said it was a continuation of efforts to return to “economic normalcy” in the country.

In April 2022, the minister met with the surrey drivers who expressed their struggles from the industry being closed since March 2020 due the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the original Surrey facility was destroyed amid the redevelopment of the Nassau Cruise Port, Surrey drivers will now operate from east of Rawson square.

Mrs Coleby- Davis said she made a commitment to the drivers that the Davis administration was fully committed to reopening the industry.

She added : “Many of the Surrey drivers and participants in the industry come from the Over-the-Hill community. Most of the participants in the Surrey industry have invested for years, with linkages to this business enterprise spanning family generations.”

Although the reopening of the industry is beneficial to the Surrey operators, the health and condition of the horses has been a major concern.

In 2017, a video surfaced on social media showing an evidently injured horse lying on the street and being attended to by individuals in the downtown area.

The incident prompted president of the Bahamas Humane Society Kim Aranha to renew calls for the Surrey horse industry to be shut down on the grounds of its inhumane nature and treatment of horses.

In 2013, a surrey horse “Uncle Tom” was hit by as it crossed the Dowdeswell and Deveaux Streets intersection.

Even in 2012, bystanders watched a gruesome scene as a surrey horse, with tourists collapsed in the corner of Dowdeswell and Christie Streets. One woman on scene called it disturbing, describing the horse as looking hungry and starved.

At the ceremony, one reporter asked what was being done to ensure the health and well-being of the horses.

Mrs Coleby-Davis responded: “We have a veterinarian who has been assisting with the horses during the shutdown because it’s really important for us to care for them even when they’re not working. And we also were able to agree a small stipend to the horse owners to get them up to speed and ready for when we were to open. So, that’s why from April to now it took some time for us to get it opened back up.”

She added that Dr Kenneth Romer, deputy director of Tourism and the chairman of the Hackney Carriage Board is working along with the board on a few programmes to make sure there are proper inspection and care for the horses going forward.

The minister reminded Surrey drivers to follow the regulations for the industry, which include ensuring the safety of carriages while also taking good care of the horses. She continued that they ensure the waste from the horses is properly collected and not deposited on the streets.

There are currently 25 registered drivers and 20 horses currently active in the Surrey industry.