Vehicles operating contrary to road licence
NEARLY 100 route taxis which were said to be operating contrary to their road licences were seized by the St James police this week.
All the taxis seized operated between downtown Montego Bay and several communities in St James, including Mount Salem, Greenpond, Flankers and Rose Hall.
According to Sergeant Ferron Williams of the St James Police Traffic Department, the vehicles were seized after the operators failed to abide by the terms of their road licences.
“The road licence states that they should be picking up passengers from the transportation centres to other destinations, but they are seen in town picking up passengers, which is illegal, as they are operating contrary to the road licence,” Sergeant Williams said.
He said that the taxi operators were expected to use any of the three transportation centres in the city, however, they had refused to comply with the law.
“Nobody is saying that they shouldn’t ply their trade, but this should be done in a lawful manner,” Sergeant Williams said.
Operators are charged between $650 and $1,000 for the release of their vehicles. They could, however, pay substantially more when they attend court, where fines go up to a maximum of $150,000.
Under the Road Traffic Act, persons operating in contravention of their road licences can be fined up $25,000, while illegal operators face the possibility of being fined up to $150,000.
The St James Parish Council had built two transportation centres in Montego Bay. One was built along Barnett Street, while the other was constructed off Howard Cooke Boulevard.
The St Paul’s United Church also constructed a facility along Union Street, in bid to reduce the pile up of taxis in front of the church along King Street.
But Williams said the centres had received little support from the taxi operators, who pick up and drop off passengers along the streets, while using Sam Sharpe Square as a loading area.
Williams said the Union Street facility had suffered heavy losses to date, as after spending $3 million dollars to develop the facility last November, only $120,000 had been collected.
“One man used to go there and he stopped after three days,” Williams said.
An estimated 320 vehicles are supposed to use the Union Street facility daily, but most bypass the centre and go through Orange Street and Sam Sharpe Square.
Williams said the police often used their discretion, as drivers who may be carrying sick or elderly persons were not prosecuted, if they use Sam Sharpe Square as a temporary drop-off area.
Meanwhile, Williams has warned that the drive to rid the streets of taxi operators would continue, as long as the operators continue to break the law.