Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Cops target Closed User Group among illegal taxi operators

Published:Thursday | March 16, 2017 | 3:00 AMPaul Clarke
From left: Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Allen of the Police Traffic Division; Dianne Ashton-Smith of Red Stripe; Alain Carreau, CEO of RUBiS; and Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council, at the launch of #WhosDrivingYouJa – a new campaign to encourage people to select a designated driver on social outings at which they consume alcohol. The timing of the campaign coincides with the carnival season, where Red Stripe is a lead sponsor. The event was held yesterday at Red Stripe’s office.

The now common practice by some illegal taxi operators of using WhatsApp voice notes and text messages in a Closed User Group (CUG) as a means to evade the police is being closely monitored by law enforcement officials, Head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Allen, declared yesterday.

"This is not new to us, but it's certainly part of the indiscipline of some road users, primarily those who operate as robot taxi drivers," he said.

He told The Gleaner that the police have identified the unofficial CUG as having a negative impact on regulating the public transportation system, but that the police have certain strategies in place to deal with it.

"We already have some strategies working and we are beginning to see results, so the point is that we as the police will have to stay on top of the game. We have a nation to safeguard and a people to protect, so we remain fervent in that regard," Allen said.

 

RESPONSIBLE SOCIAL PARTNERSHIPS

 

The senior cop was a guest at Red Stripe's soft launch of the #WhosDrivingYouJa initiative aimed at encouraging people to select a designated driver on social outings at which they consume alcohol. He said he was particularly impressed with entities such as Red Stripe and RUBiS who are social partners in the very important effort in educating the public about the risks associated with driving under the influence of alcohol.

In addition, he said the 34 per cent reduction in fatal crashes so far this year indicates that responsible social partnerships can help drive the safety and awareness efforts.

Fifty-nine persons have been killed in vehicular crashes so far this year in comparison to 89 for the same period last year. There is also a 24 per cent year-to-date decline in fatal crashes, according to statistics from the Road Safety Unit.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com