ORACABESSA, St Mary — Oracabessa Taxi Association President Stanford Stewart has warned that the new Road Traffic Act, which came into force on Wednesday, will result in children being denied access to public transportation.
Under the Act, children under 12 years old and small adults must be in a car seat in private and public passenger vehicles, with the exception of State-owned buses.
The law also requires taxi operators who transport children to provide a car seat.
Under the legislation, "A booster cushion shall be installed with a seat belt for the cushion restraint of a small person or a child so that when the small person or child is seated on the booster cushion the seat belt passes over the shoulder and not over the neck."
Motorists without a seat belt can be fined up to $15,000.
According to Stewart, the new law is not fair to them as taxi operators, as they are the ones who have the responsibility of taking children as young as three years old to and from school.
"Some children start school as young as three, and we the taxi operators are entrusted with them. We have to see to their well-being from pick-up to drop-off as many of the parents have to go to work. Now, this will place many of them in inconvenience... The children will be walking," said Stewart.
"Now, having this, the taxi operators will lose as they will be carrying less children or none at all," added Stewart as he argued that many of his members share his sentiments.
Stewart said he had written to the relevant authorities, including assistant commissioner of police in charge of public safety and traffic enforcement Gary McKenzie; head of the St Mary Police Division Superintendent Bobbett Morgan; and the Transport Authority seeking a meeting to discuss the new regulation, but this is yet to be held.
With more than 500 members, Stewart pointed out that his association is vital to the public transportation system in St Mary.
He charged that the Government has taken the wrong approach in introducing the new traffic Act.
Stewart said all the relevant personnel, including Minister of Transport Audley Shaw, should meet so that they could come to an amicable agreement.
"The Government has come to us like Nicodemus in the night. When I look at some of the fines they are not for the poor, some of us will be going to jailhouse, almshouse, poorhouse, or madhouse with these fines," said Stewart.
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