Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
The National Council of Taxi Associations (NCOTA) is calling on Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies to step up the crackdown on robot taxis operating across the island.
President of NCOTA, Dion Chance, says legal taxi operators are reeling from the increasing number of robot taxis on the road, and the transport ministry must act to cauterise this illegal practice.
"The robot is an ever-increasing threat to the viability of the legal taxi operators; for every legal taxi you may have two robots," said Chance.
"We may not be able to totally get rid of robots, but there must be some way that the regulatory framework can limit the time that they operate to give the licensed person a chance to make a living," added Chance.
He argued that in most cases it is these illegal taxi operators who breach the road code, giving the legitimate taxi operators a bad name.
"They are the main ones that flout the law; they don't abide by the rules, they pick up and set down anywhere, and the commuters gravitate to them not knowing the danger that they are putting themselves in, in case there is an accident.
"There is no com-pensation for you because they are not covered (by insurance) to carry passengers for a reward."
Chance is also calling for transportation centres to be established in all parishes to reduce the burden on taxi operators who are unable to find suitable areas to park without fear of prosecution from the police.
Turning his attention to the recent traffic changes in Montego Bay instituted by the St James Parish Council, Chance said while his association welcomes the changes, it is upset that they were not in keeping with the agreement arrived at during the planning meetings where they were discussed.
Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris recently announced that sections of some streets in the city would be designated interim parking bays for taxi operators plying routes in Montego Bay and its environs.
"We welcome the changes, but if the enforcement is not stepped up, then we are going to go right back to where we were before this. For the life of me, I can't see why it is that a taxi operator is given somewhere to operate that the police won't bother them, something that is sanctioned, and they prefer to go into the lion's mouth to be bitten."