Taxi driver Harold ‘Pipeman’ Johnson reported that some taxi drivers are receiving preferential treatment over others at the Freeport Harbour. He made this claim during a recent exclusive interview with The Freeport News.
Johnson, owner of taxi 327, is calling for those in authority to address the problem.
“Every morning, whatever boat is in you have a group of seven or eight taxi drivers who go out by the boat and when the people are ready to leave they group them, go and get their taxis and put them in their taxis,” he alleged.
Johnson maintained that these drivers are taking the best jobs and whatever is left is given to the other taxi drivers, including him.
“One set of people receive the best jobs every day,” he claimed.
He maintained that the drivers operate on a system, where their taxi numbers are called in order and often these certain drivers do not go in the right order, they jump ahead.
According to Johnson, the Department of Road Traffic is responsible for supervising this operation and they do nothing to prevent these things from happening.
“They sit down and allow their friends to do what they feel like,” he claimed.
Johnson said that it is difficult to earn a living under these working conditions and being a licensed taxi driver can be very costly.
“You have to make sure all of your National Insurance is paid up. Number two, you have to get a business license, number three they want you to present your bank statement, four you have to do an inspection, five you have to go to pay to license your car. We spend a lot of money,” he said.
The Freeport News contacted Senior Inspector Marco King, Acting Chief Supervisor in Road Traffic Department, who is also in charge of law enforcement.
He assured that taxi drivers receiving preferential treatment would not happen due to the system in place.
“Every taxi on a taxi stand must be the first person in line. We go by a rotation system, if you are first and a job comes in that is your job,” he said.
King explained that the only instances when that rule does not apply are when persons request a taxi with certain amenities.
“If your taxi is not up to par than that is the only way we bypass the first taxi and give it to the person that is next in line that has the requirement the person asked for,” he said.
King explained that every taxi driver at the harbour must put their number on a board, so when a cruise ship comes in and it’s their turn their number is called and they get a job.
He added that sometimes drivers who put their number on the board do not receive jobs until the next day depending on the amount of taxis ahead of them.
King noted that once a driver does get a job, their number is taken down and they must put it back up afterwards.
King added that all buses are approved by Road Traffic and must be prearranged to get their jobs.
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2017