Transport Authority angry but it’s no big thing says taxi operators
Route taxi operators have been transporting children in their car trunks to maximise earnings, the Transport Authority (TA) said weekend and issued a stern warning that they stop this “illegal and most inhumane practice” immediately or face prosecution. “The Authority is condemning this practice and has instructed its Operations Division to intensify activities to stamp out this inhumane practice, which seriously compromises the safety and comfort of passengers,” said Donald Foster, the TA managing director. “Any operator found to be violating the rights of passengers to a safe and comfortable ride by overloading the vehicles will be prosecuted under section 28 (3) of the Road Traffic Regulations (1938),” he warned.
“The Transport Authority will be engaging the hierarchy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to implement strategies to also prosecute these offenders for cruelty to children under section 9 (1) (b) of the Child Care and Protection Act 9(2005),” Foster said. But Foster immediately came under for highlighting what director of the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO), Egerton Newman described yesterday as “a small age -old problem” and suggesting he focused instead on the “more pressing problems that are now affecting the transport industry”.
Newman who is also the head of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) admitted the practice was wrong and should not be done, but said he could not understand why the Authority was making an issue of the matter at present when they had bigger fish to fry. “It’s very strange that the managing director of the Transport Authority came out with that just now, that has been an age-old problem with the transport industry for those operators in the rural areas. Not many of them have the type of car that they can put students in the back.
Newman said the practice was mostly done by “robot taxi” operators in the rural areas and on long parochial roads, because of a shortage in transportation. “It is concentrated in rural areas where taxis are limited and you will find a community of 40 houses but it is only one taxi that goes into that area. In some cases they are not even taxis, they are robots so I would not put so much pressure on that issue because I know the situation in those areas,” he added.
Nevertheless, he said he urged taxi and bus operators to desist from the practice as it is unsafe and could result in the loss of many lives in the case of an accident. Newman said the Authority should seek to address the new stipulation which calls for owners of taxis to produce police records in order to get their vehicles on the road; the provision that prevent cars that are over 10 years old from being used as a taxi as well as the Authority planting ‘passengers’ with marked monies on buses to catchbus operators who illegally pick up or let off passengers along certain routes.
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