ST CATHERINE, Jamaica – Egeton Newman, president of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), says most taxi operators in the St John's Road and Brunswick Avenue areas of Spanish Town are now back at work after the cabbies withdrew their services on Wednesday and Thursday morning in protest over police seizures of their vehicles.
Newman met with the disgruntled taxi operators who have been calling for the Transport Authority to adjust their road licences to allow them to change their routes after several of their vehicles were seized by cops.
"Taximen from St John's road, Brunswick, Linstead took strike action, I counted at least 400 taxis on strike but most are back to work now," Newman said.
The operators, who withdrew their service on Wednesday, protested in the vicinity of the Spanish Town Bypass and St John's Road. On Thursday, the Eltham Park taxi operators joined in the protest along Brunswick Avenue. The operators said they are forced to use alternative routes because of deplorable road conditions, but they are being charged by alleged rogue policemen who have been writing them expensive tickets and seizing their vehicles for operating "contrary" to their road licences.
"It's a serious matter," Newman said. "The police from out of Spanish Town have come in and are 'wrecking' the guys' vehicles and the police in Spanish Town don't know about it. The 'contrary' traffic law is still on the books but in the township the operators can move within a radius because of the traffic and road situation. For instance, operating 'contrary' could be defined as when you have a Spanish Town to Portmore (licence) but operate instead on the Spanish Town to Old Harbour route, that is contrary. But if the route remains the same, police shouldn't seize vehicles," Newman said.
Newman is calling for a meeting with the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of National Security.
"How can these cops simply go into another jurisdiction and operate, and don't even advise the police officers in Spanish Town? We need a meeting with the Transport Authority tomorrow (Friday)," Newman said.
One operator told OBSERVER ONLINE that "we need the contrary fi stop".
"All of a sudden, wrecker just come on and take up vehicle fi contrary, and we have rogue police ah write expensive 20,000 ticket fi contrary. We caan drive pon Williams street because of the traffic and pothole dem so we take alternative route but is still Spanish Town we heading to, so how we ah drive contrary?" the taxi operator who plies Kitson Town to Spanish Town said.