Transport unit dodges FOI with poor records

| 04/12/2018 | 63 Comments
Cayman News Service

Bus depot in George Town, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The ombudsman has let the Public Transportation Unit (PTU) off the hook over a refused freedom of information request because of its poor record keeping. In Sandy Hermiston’s latest decision regarding an applicant’s appeal over a denied public records request, she has upheld the PTU’s refusal because trying to compile the statistics asked for would result in an “unreasonable diversion of resources”, largely due the unit’s failure to properly manage its data and information. 

The decision, published last week, indicates that an applicant was seeking information about taxi operators, including numbers, how many of them also have government jobs and issues relating to status.

The tourism ministry, which is responsible for the Public Transportation Unit, supplied the number of operators, which is 285, but declined to share any more information, arguing that “while the PTU holds records which may be responsive, the PTU does not keep statistics on the occupation or the place of birth of the operators”.

The unit claimed that it would be discriminatory to ask that information because they only needed to know that licence holders were Caymanian, not how they gained that national status. The PTU further argued that the application forms, which may have some of this information, would need to be redacted before being released because the documents all contain personal information, including medical issues.

In her decision after the applicant appealed, the ombudsman concluded that the law does not require the creation of new records, such as the requested statistics in this case, and that providing redacted copies of the application forms and supporting documentation would be excessively costly and would unreasonably divert the resources of the PTU. She said no further action was required, allowing the unit to dodge responding to the request.

But Hermiston found that the record keeping at the PTU was “troubling” and would need to improve, especially with the anticipated implementation of the Data Protection Law. She said she had referred the department for an internal audit and noted that the ministry has since committed to updating its electronic system to include relevant data on transport operators and produce related statistics in the future.

The findings raise further questions, however, as the law requires that all public transport operators be Caymanian, and so there must be a way for the government to demonstrate that fact.

It has long been common practice for some operators to sub-lease vehicles and licences or to employ people, including work permit holders, to drive buses while they engage in other work. This means that the PTU must be able to show that buses driven by non-locals are nevertheless still owned and operated by Caymanians.

Issues relating to the licensing of public transport operators and taxi drivers was also recently raised in the Legislative Assembly, when the representative for George Town Central, Kenneth Bryan, asked whether there was a moratorium on licences for transport operators.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said there was no moratorium in place but the board considered licences in relation to supply and demand in a very competitive industry. In further supplementary questions the minister said that licences for taxi drivers and tour operation businesses could only be given to Caymanians, but this did not prevent those owners to apply for permits for their drivers.

See the full decision in the CNS Library

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Category: Local News

Comments (63)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Ombudsman did not deny the request on the grounds that the records were a mess.

    Here is the summary of the Ombudsman’s reasons for decision as posted on our Facebook Page, we hope this provides more clarity about the decision:

    An Applicant requested information about taxi operators such as the number of operators, how many are also employed by the Cayman Islands Government (in particular how many are employed by the police and the prison service) and how many are Caymanian/status holders as well as the place of birth of the operators.

    The Public Transportation Unit (PTU) does not keep statistics on the occupation or the place of birth of the operators. The Ombudsman does not have the jurisdiction to order the Government to create new records, such as statistics. Since the requested records did not exist, the Ombudsman considered whether to order the Ministry to release records which could be used by the Applicant to create those statistics herself.

    The Ombudsman concluded that providing redacted copies of the application forms and supporting documentation would be excessively costly, particularly in terms of the time required to adequately redact the highly personal records (such as birth certificates) and would therefore unreasonably divert the resources of the Government under the Law.

    The PTU informed the Ombudsman that they intend to update the electronic system to include relevant data on public transportation operators and produce related statistics in the future. The Ombudsman commended the Ministry/PTU for agreeing to create statistics in the future and noted that these types of records should be created in the ordinary course of business. The Ombudsman will follow up to ensure the Ministry honours its commitment.

    The full decision is available at

  2. Anonymous says:

    I saw a hire car being used as a taxi by Ace (apparent from decals) the other day. Is that even legal?

  3. Anonymous says:

    CNS why do your questions only point to $2 public bus drivers and not taxi drivers, standard of driving, cost of journies, general standard, cleanliness and roadworthiness of vehicles, attitudes of drivers.. there are so many important considerations missing. I would take a bus over a taxi any day.

    • Anonymous says:

      This article is relevant to buses is why. But they both suck.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. Cayman’s public transport consists of BOTH licensed taxis and buses.
        2. You didn’t read the article which refers to both.
        3. Taxis suck more than buses, pun intended.

  4. Shabba says:

    Can an FOI request be made for the Caymanian owners of these taxi companies are? That should tell us everything.

  5. Anonymous says:

    8:30am i will one day and persons like you will be disciplined. Thanks too my West Bayer’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t even reply to the original comment correctly so I highly doubt you’ll nail filling out any forms needed to run in the first place. Not scared. Xoxo

  6. Anonymous says:

    Them and taxi drivers. Worst drivers around.

  7. Anonymous 101 says:

    Now I think that the PPM Party is got their grave dug down to 5ft 3in and not much further to go to 6ft .

  8. Anonymous says:

    Time to shut this shit down

  9. Ron Ebanks says:

    I have to believe that this government is putting the Islands in a bad situation with all the secretive Laws . If you want to see how protectively the government is in covering their tracks , go back and read the article published on 30/11/2018 . Headline, “FoI exemption grow , data protection delayed” , I think they seen this Taxi issue brewing and tried to completely block all information from being exposed publicly by Law . Who and what are they protecting ? And why ? I have to leave you to answer that question after reading the CNS TAXI article and the Compass TAXI article .

  10. Rodney A. Barnett says:

    It is astounding to me that the CIG cannot do ANYTHING right!

    The this whole scheme collapses, I wonder if Mr. Dart will bail the country out. Yes, country not just the government.

    Take a look at St. Kitts and Nevis, and their passport scheme. It is slowly unfolding, and soon the federation will have nothing to show for decades of cash flowing in. What does Cayman think will happen when the EU finally gets the finance sector to move out of the Overseas Territories?

    Oh Well…….

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well done to the PTU for refusing to respond to a question that was driven by improper discrimination against Caymanians because of the place of their birth. Standing up to pathetic nativist racism is a must.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree that nativist racism is nothing to be supported our encouraged, but allowing a public entity to get out of fulfilling an FOI request because of their own shoddy record keeping sets a terrible precedent.

    • Anonymous says:

      “a question that was driven by improper discrimination against Caymanians”

      They are trying to find out if there are people on work permits driving buses. How exactly is that constituting “improper discrimination” or “nativist racism”? It’s simple statistics.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because it’s the first thing people who don’t want to work and think they are owed something for being Caymanian shout.

  12. land crab says:

    The PTU is run by Caymanians – need we say more?.

    • Anonymous 101 says:

      Land Crab , but , which Caymanians is a better question .

    • Anonymous says:

      Land Crab, true. However this one incompetent individual isn’t a reflection of an entire group of people. What this highlights is that another individual has been placed in a position for which he cannot handle.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ah right, so if I am a government department, all I need to do to get out of more work with these pesky FOI’s is make sure my record keeping is bad. Thanks Mr Ombudsman, at last soemone that is on our side!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman Compass explained the decision differently. I think CNS got it wrong.

      • Anonymous says:

        Really? Because this was the exact conclusion I reached after reading the Compass article.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dysfunctional and not changing. Its what Cayman Government is all about.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Most locals can’t afford to buy a bus. And if locals seek to make money illegally such as selling drugs, selling or buying numbers or ever try to get involved in any other types of illegal activities. The whole police force will come for them in a minute and jail cells they will go. The government must take over the public Transportation Unit purchase buses for locals to drive and every month collect a lease fee from the drivers for the use of the buses. That can be another way government can make some revenue. Government must make sure all drivers be properily uniformed, proper indentiification cards and all drivers indentification cards must be properily displayed and be worn at all times. All buses must be road worthy and kept clean at all times.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How do these guys even pretend to know who is Caymanian from who is not?

    • why says:

      I do not understand what the FOI questions were. Was one of the question how many Caymanians who have taxi license have other employment such as police? Or is it where are the taxi drivers born? I believe
      the OBudsman office got it right.

    • Anonymous says:

      The way Trump knows who’s American. He doesn’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly. The form they use and evidence they require seems to be nothing more than a statement as to whether the person is Caymanian. It is an outrage.

  17. Anonymous says:

    What an awful precedent to set

  18. Anonymous says:

    Are the managers of PTU idiots-at-work?

    Why are the records in shambles? What disciplinary action will the Dep. Gov take in relation to this embarrassment of a department? They have written up other civil servants for lesser infractions.

    This seems more like the PTU and Ministry do not want YOU to know how many non-Caymanians taxis and bus drivers there are because the Minister Moses Kirkconnell keep saying they need to build the piers to help protect the 400 taxi and bus driver jobs.

    Well, the PTU must have mis-informed Minister Moses as they have stated just now that there are only 285 taxi AND bus drivers. Furthermore, they dont know how many are Caymanian.

    So, Minister Moses, how many Caymanian taxi and bus driver jobs we need to protect again??

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi. I believe Moses’ stats also include the ‘tour’ buses which are not necessarily ‘public transport’.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I think they Ministry and PTU knows everything about everything . That’s why everything is scattered around in the back room and filing cabinets, so that you can’t know anything. Excuse and more excuses . But someone should take a good look at the Laws because I think it is some conflicts of interest in them .

  19. Anonymous says:

    If you think about how well the inside of a Cayman taxi is kept and organised or a fee is determined, you can just imagine how well the supposed regulator is organised.

    • Anonymous says:

      The taxi’s in Cayman need to switch to a metered fare system and not the “look it up on a laminated page” system. I tried to look at it once and the driver cut her eye at me and titled it more so I couldn’t see it and I swear what she told me was the price point higher than what I glimpsed.

      • Anonymous says:

        She is legally obliged to show you the tariff sheet. It’s also a public document so handy to print out and carry with you:

        36 mile journey for airport taxis is a ridiculous CI$332.64. Truly sickening. In comparison the 171 mile journey from London to my home town costs £180-225 by very clean taxis with very courteous drivers. Who dreams up these extortionate fares? And then at the opposite extreme the public buses only get CI$2 per person for at least the last 15 years. No wonder the drivers don’t want to drive out East with barely any passengers. It’s probably costing them/their boss when cost of fuel, insurance, repairs, etc. are taken into account.

      • Anonymous says:

        The taxi driver is legally obliged to show the tariff sheet to you if you ask. It’s also freely available to print and carry with you here:

        I dared to look. A 36 mile trip is a jawdropping CI$332.64! Who dreams up these things? In contrast bus drivers get $3 a head to drive to the other end of the island and back .in further contrast a gorgeous car with a courteous driver only costs me £180-225 to take me on a 171 mile journey from London Heathrow each time I visit the UK, and I thought that was a lot!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I needed to take a bus last Thursday evening and waited in town almost an hour before one came only to see 4 of them parked by Cable and Wireless. WTF!! Why do they congregate there instead of in town? This needs to be addressed. Last time I saw that was a bus stop not a bus depot.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jamaican drivers picking up Jamaican passengers. Don’t you know that area by Flow is Little Kingston Bus Depot?

      • Anonymous says:

        The apparent Jamaican dominance of this key aspect of our tourism product does seem particularly prevalent and strange. What is going on?

        • Anonymous says:

          They are being employed by Caymanian bus operators.

          • Anonymous says:

            But how many of the Caymanians are Jamaican, how many are Filipino , how many are Honduran, how many are American etc.? Should be some variety if it is a fair and open industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      I never realized it before but out of curiosity I look while I was driving past. There were 7 buses by Flow. Buses that went to East End and West Bay and South Sound from what I saw. I would like to know how, when and why this spot is so heavily congregated. There were two drivers walking around and one bus I could see was half empty. I guess they were waiting to fill their buses while as I drove home I counted at least 11 people at bus stop along Crewe Road.

      • Anonymous says:

        They do it all the time. They hang about as long as possible nr Thompson Building/Lime and by Eastern Avenue making existing passengers wait as they try to fill up the bus. Then everyone at the airport and beyond is out of luck – no room, buses full. I have often waited at the official stop at the bus depot after work to catch the bus East, only to find out that had I walked to the Thompson Building I could have caught several buses and been home. It’s really frustrating. Especially when you finally get a bus only to be kicked out at BT/Frank Sound in the night because the drivers turn round and go back to town/home.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How do you complain to about these idiots driving. This morning I watched a bus with a blue sticker that had ‘9’ on it driving on the opposite side of the road on Shedden Rd and Dr. Roy’s Dr right before the Elizabethan Square on the other side past that pedestrian crosswalk to bypass a 2 cars he didn’t think was moving fast enough to get to ahead to get to town at 6:25am this morning. He must have driven past us going at least 50mph by the way that poor bus was sounding. I am surprised these fools haven’t killed more people or got into more accidents.

    CNS: I’ll pass your question on to Auntie on CNS Local Life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks CNS

    • Anonymous says:

      Black BT bus was racing an old silvery colored BT bus on Shamrock Rd up to Ocean Club the other morning as I was driving to work 6.45ish. I was already doing the speed limit when the old bus shot past me, with the black bus not far behind him and driving even faster to try catch up. I used public transport for years before buying my own car and I can honestly say most of the drivers are great. It’s just an unscrupulous few who make it look bad for them all. They should fit monitors on the buses to check speeds and alert law enforcement when they speed.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Good. Keep them out of our business.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Uber. Lyft. Flex. Whatever. Anything else, please!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Are they part of the same mafia as the taxi’s?

  25. OneVoice says:

    The PTU is a terrible miss-managed unit of government, with individuals that don’t care .in other words it’s just a job . From the top needs to be changed/removed and replaced.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Considering these guys are “professional drivers” they are freaking awful at it!

    • Anonymous says:

      What could have EVER given you the idea that they are ‘professional drivers’ ??? That does not belong in the same sentence.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The PTU has a lot of time on their hands, they never reply to any of my emails or phone call messages. Just what are they doing?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Why does the board have their head in the sand about the number of licenses? There is a major supply issue with taxis and that leads to people making bad decisions about drinking and driving. If Cayman had a service like Uber – and I know there are people trying but don’t have enough drivers – our roads would be much safer. It is so difficult to catch a taxi here compare to other places.

  29. Anonymous says:

    These people suck. They charge too much and now we find they can’t keep records? Shocker!

    The other thing I find appalling is that they are owned by Caymanians but mostly driven by Jamaicans. Why protect them from competition if they aren’t even locals who drive?! It’s always date night anytime I get a cab home in the eve with the driver and their b/f or g/f sitting shot gun.

  30. Anonymous says:

    bus service here is fine…they should be let run at night.
    the real parasites are the tax1 drivers…

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