Wed | Nov 13, 2019

Fix it! - Old Harbour subdivision officer sends warning to illegal taxi operators

Published:Tuesday | May 7, 2019 | 12:18 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

DEPUTY SUPER­INTENDENT of Police Damion Manderson used a special meeting called with Old Harbour taxi operators to send a strong warning to robot taxi operators in the division.

Manderson, who has been at the helm at the subdivision for little under four weeks, initiated the meeting with the operators to hear their grouses. Also present at the meeting were representatives from the St Catherine Municipal Corporation.

It was a fiery meeting as taxi operators aired their grouses, which mainly surrounded issues with the designated parks, that they deemed unsafe and inappropriate; the inadequacies of the traffic-police monitoring, as they said more police are needed on the roads; and the fact that robot taxi drivers were getting off scot-free while they, the red-plate operators, remain the targets of the police.

The ‘clampers’ from the municipal corporation were also in for criticism as the taxi operators expressed issues with the way they carried out their operations.

The new commander wasted no time in stating his intention to deal with one of their issues – that of robot taxis and hackneys operating contrary to their licences.

He also sent a strong warning to the illegal taxi operators via the attendees, who he humorously referred to as “the choir”.

“Choir members, I am giving you a word for them. It is not business as usual. The days of robot taxi operating, and those Spring Village taxis, including the seven-seater bus that I see in the bus park, tell them that me say me a come fi dem. Mi nah send nobody, me a come fi him,” he said.

HOLIDAYS ARE OVER

Manderson said that in his first few weeks at the controls, he has been driving and walking around, watching and observing things. He said that the holidays are now over.

“I have spoken to some of you, but I am telling you, the holidays are over, and choir when you go back, let them know that the holiday is over,” he told them.

Manderson, in highlighting the cost associated with getting road licences, insurance and the other requirements to have a taxi on the road, said it was time for the law-abiding citizens to benefit from the system.

“I think it is very important to call the choir to come to the church meeting (the forum) because the choir responsibility is to go back and tell the unconverted (the illegal taxi operators) that they need to seek salvation (get road licences). But there are some backsliders (those who were registered but opted to run robot taxis), and there are others who have never been to the altar (have never sought a road licence) because their view is to be out in the world and ‘to eat a food’ at the expense of the church members,” said Manderson, using an analogy to get his point across.

At the end of the meeting, the taxi operators said it was the first time they had come to a meeting and had left feeling as if someone really understood.

They expressed satisfaction that their cries were finally being heard.

“You are the only person that has shown respect for taxi man. Many of us were professional persons who got laid off; we borrowed and invested to be in this business,” said.

Manderson urged the operators to use the three designated parks and to return to another meeting on May 29, when they will be able to give feedback on any challenges they encountered.

“You can’t say’ give us another park’ if you are not utilising the ones you already have,” Manderson told them, throwing down the challenge for them to try it first.

rural@gleanerjm.com