Police Steps up Action Against Illegal Taxi Operators


The Police Traffic Division has stepped up its enforcement action against illegal taxi drivers, especially in light of the increase in cases of rapes and assault allegedly being committed by some of these operators.
Backed by the Transport Licensing Authority and the Ministry of Transport and Works, the law enforcement officers have been out in full force prosecuting, seizing and warning offenders. Superintendent Owen Ellington of the Police Traffic Division told JIS News that daily operations were being carried out across the country and include inspection of documents, observation of operations, detection of offences, prosecution, and seizures. Persons operating contrary to their licence are fined $20,000 while those operating public passenger vehicles (PPV) without a road licence are charged $15,000.
Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent of Police in charge of the Division’s Traffic Management Project, Byron Powell, told JIS News that in addition to enforcement efforts, there was a public education drive to emphasise the importance of getting registered and operating in a legal manner. He said that the message was aired on radio three mornings per week and a Sergeant was detailed to disseminate information to the public through community fora.
Asked if there has been any significant increase in the number of illegal operators plying the various routes, Superintendent Owen Ellington of the Police Traffic Division said, “it’s hard to compare, because you don’t know what’s illegal until you run into it. What I do know is that there is a significant increase in the number of prosecutions. I don’t know if that necessarily indicates that there is an increase in the number of illegal operators”.
The Ministry of Transport and Works for its part, has announced new stringent requirements for persons applying for badges to operate pubic passenger vehicles. Effective November 1, drivers and conductors must submit two recommendations from specified sources; a certified copy of a birth certificate; a medical report; and two passport sized photographs certified within the last six months. The police will also be asked to supply for each applicant, a criminal record; a record of driving offences and; information on security sensitivity status.
The Transport Authority will oversee the withdrawal of existing badges and the replacement of new ones, which are consistent with the new requirements for operators.
In addition, Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, has announced that at the start of the 2004 licensing period, a colour coding and numbering system would be introduced for easy identification and tracking of vehicles. These will be assigned to recognised associations that represent operators.
Currently, all drivers and conductors are required to exhibit a badge as well as an identification card, which distinguish their status. Both items should be in a conspicuous location in the vehicle. The identification card must bear the photograph and particulars of the vehicle.
Applicants must be over 21 years of age and must pass a reading test to get identification cards and badges. They are also required to submit character references and possess a valid PPV driver’s licence.
For hackney carriages, a globe is to be affixed to the roof and a valid Transport Authority must be displayed on the windscreen of all taxis, including route taxis. The vehicle must also bear PPV red plates.
Additionally, the Transport Authority will be upgrading its registrar of drivers and conductors, to maintain current records of personal data and information relating to driving and criminal offences.
Meanwhile, Joan Forbes, Managing Director of the Transport Authority, told JIS News that 35,698 licences were processed during the last licensing period – April 2002 to March 2003 – and of the total 2,132 were hackney carriages and 10,986 were route taxi licences.
The overall figure represents 3,358 more licences than were processed for the previous licensing period. As of the end of August this year, 25,307 licences have been processed. Hackney carriages account for 1,778 of these while route taxis represent 6,791.

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