By Latrishka Thomas
Agitated taxi operators at the airport are now taking matters into their own hands to prevent persons from transporting passengers illegally.
During an interview on Observer AM yesterday, Ian Joseph, the president of the United Taxi Company Limited (UTC) revealed that the drivers are in a “militant mode” such that if “anybody shows up there with any A or C plates, we are going to take the guests. We are gonna let the guests know that they are putting them in illegal transportation and we’re gonna protect Antigua and Barbuda,” he stressed.
“Covid-19 regulations state that for contact tracing purposes, everybody moving from the airport will be transported by the United Taxi Company. Somewhere along the line we looked at our brothers and sisters in the hotel who would have relationships with guests who they’ve been driving for years, so provisions was then made for authorised taxi drivers from hotels,” Joseph explained
But regarding the illegal “operators”, the UTC drivers are up in arms since efforts to engage various authorities have been unsuccessful, Joseph claimed.
In fact, he contended that the perpetrators sometimes contact persons at the Airport Authority and are allowed to have their way.
“But it’s not okay,” Joseph exclaimed.
According to him “it costs drivers a lot of money to come back to work” and many drivers have not been able to get a job in several days.
“When they send up get a job, it’s under US$20 [which is] under EC$50,” he added.
Meanwhile, the General Manager of the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board [ABTB], Hubert Jarvis, told Observer that addressing the matter requires concerted effort from all authorities.
“Ultimately, it would have to be the police and the various associations. If an infringement is happening at a particular locale – let’s say at the airport or one of the hotels – that respective taxi association would have to bring that matter to the attention of the police or Transport Board.
“We [ABTB] can’t do any actual enforcement but we can discipline the person in terms of their public service permit which they obtained from us and sanction them, but the police would have to apprehend,” Jarvis explained.
Consequently, he said that the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority should be the initial point of contact in the effort to resolve the matter.
The next step, Jarvis said, would be that the taxi drivers “should bring the evidence to the Transport Board so that we can revoke their permits or something of the sort”.