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Hefty fines concern Clarendon PPV operators

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2023 | 1:48 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer

Despite his association’s non-participation in Monday’s taxi strike action by public passenger vehicle operators in sections of the island, Fredrick Bryan said members of the Vere Taxi Operators Association in Clarendon are also not pleased with some regulations under the New Road Traffic Act.

Atop the list of grievances, Bryan said, are the hefty fines now in place for breaches.

“Some of the fees are very draconian, and they are very insensitive to the nature of the economy that we are operating in. I’m wondering where was the consultation. There should have been some consultation prior to what the Government enacted. There seems to be a gulf between the legislators and other stakeholders (taxi operators), who are now victims,” Bryan told The Gleaner on Monday.

Noting that the Government usually cites high fines as deterrents to possible breaches of the law, Bryan argued that the fines were illogical.

In addition, he said that taxi operators make little to no profit most days because of high gas prices.

‘’It’s either the Government is not knowledgeable, or they don’t care about our experience. I’m not sure,” he said.

Speaking on the contentious child seat requirement, Bryan chided the Government, noting that it was impractical for public passenger vehicles. He added that the law is burdensome for people travelling with multiple children.

Under Section 73 of the legislation, motorists who do not have appropriate child-restraint systems when transporting children 12 years and younger will be fined $5,000.

Bryan added that sanitation and hygiene issues could arise with taxi operators having a permanent child seat in their vehicles.

He told The Gleaner that his team remains patient and optimistic while the Government reviews the child restraint law.

Allan Blair, who heads the National Council of Taxi Operators (NCOTA), said he, too, is anticipating Parliament’s favourable review of some sections of the act because “there are discrepancies”.

Blair, who is also president of the May Pen Taxi Operators Association, said wrecker fees will also pose as a hurdle to people in the more rural sections of the island.

“There is a thought that if you’re up in the country area and your vehicle has broken down, the regular thing is that you get somebody to give you a tow. Now they can’t do that. They will have to get a wrecker. Now, if someone lives in Frankfield in the hills [of Clarendon] and have to get a wrecker from May Pen, that’s a hefty cost,” Blair told The Gleaner.

On Monday morning, Corporal Andrew Spence of the Traffic Department at the May Pen Police Station noted that there was no severe disruption in public transport.

Spence said, however, that some students from Garvey Maceo High School in Vernamfield were left stranded. He added that this has been an ongoing issue for these students for several years.

Bryan, who heads the Vere Taxi Operators Association, said he was aware of the transportation woes faced by the students. He cited the school’s geographical location as a contributing factor, even as he called on bus operators to step in to alleviate some of the challenges.

One taxi operator, Junior, who plies the May Pen to Mandeville route, expressed disappointment with the Government’s handing a reprieve period, which gave motorists a chance to clear outstanding traffic fines and nullify demerit points recorded against them ahead of February 1, when the new Road Traffic Act took effect.

“They said them a give us an amnesty, and then leave us to the mercy of the judge who have no mercy. [We have] a $500 ticket, them a charge us $2,500. It’s more arrogance than leniency to us as taxi man to face the judge,” Junior contended.