ACP Chambers vows to prosecute cabbies using gas stations as taxi standsThursday, July 08, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers is warning that a zero-tolerance approach will be taken against taxi operators who are using gas stations as taxi stands in the bustling commercial hub in the resort city of Montego Bay.
“Some [taxi operators] were ticketed [last Friday] at a location by the police officers who were working with the Transport Authority for letting off and picking up passengers at a gas station. They were observed picking up and letting off persons not at designated locations, so they were prosecuted for that,” Chambers told the Jamaica Observer West.
“So some action was taken and more will be taken on a more broad scale level when we go back. We didn't do much prosecution, but next time around it will be zero tolerance in terms of prosecution.”
ACP Chambers stressed that the practice of using gas stations as taxi stands is a safety hazard.
“I'm sure it poses a risk and a threat to passengers and the persons who work at the gas stations and the persons who patronise those gas stations,” bemoaned ACP Chambers.
ACP Chambers was speaking to the Observer West during a major multi-agency operation undertaken in the resort city last Friday, as part of efforts to maintain public order.
The ACP charged that some gas station operators are facilitating the “hazardous practice.”
“The gas station issue is a big issue here. Gas stations are licensed to sell gas and other items, but what we realise is that we have seen where gas station operators have somehow given permission for taxi operators to park and to pick up and to let off, which I'm sure is in breach of the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) protocol. But if they're seen taking up passengers at these locations, they will be prosecuted for picking up passengers at the location,” he warned.
When contacted, president of the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association Dianne Parram distanced her members from the alleged practice of granting permission for taxi operators to use gas stations as taxi stands.
“It's not allowed, it's something that we don't endorse, particularly because of the risk, the safety hazard…it's a safety hazard, people there blocking the entrance and the exit… it is so risky,” Parram argued.
She strongly opposed the notion that gas station operators allow the practice and suggested that cabbies should provide proof of permission granted to them to operate at the gas stations.
“The taxi operators should be asked to show what they were given because that arrangement couldn't be something that is a verbal arrangement…,” Parram stressed.
“Our members complain [about taxi operators] all the time. We talk to our minister, we talk to the [police] high command and they are working with us.”
One cabbie, who could not provide the Observer West with any proof, insisted, however, that he was given permission to operate at a gas station.
“We have been operating here from time immemorial. We don't have anything in writing but we all have an understanding with the owners,” he claimed.
According to ACP Chambers, during Friday's massive public order maintenance drive — which included the participation of members of Customs, the St James Municipal Police, the Transport Authority and the Jamaica Constabulary Force — several businesses were found to be operating with expired trade licences.
“Within 100 metres of where we start at 'Clock' [Barnett Street], there were a lot of business establishments — supermarkets, haberdasheries and other agencies — which were operating ...well, let's say their licences have expired. The documentation that they should have presented on their establishment to show that they are registered with the municipal office had also expired,” said the ACP.
Additionally, several motorists were prosecuted for various other breaches of the Road Traffic Act.
“There are several prosecutions for road traffic breaches and again within 100 metres of where we started, there were several derelict vehicles that have been permanently parked on a roadway that we have to get off or have people just push them elsewhere,” the senior cop disclosed.
“So, that is indicative of what is happening, and an indication of that which we're trying to clear up.”
During the operation illegal street vending was noticeably absent from most of the city's thoroughfares.
Meanwhile, ACP Chambers has vowed to maintain public order in the city with the assistance of the municipal police.
“What we intend to do is to rely heavily on the municipal corporation and the other State agencies, and also, put in as best as we can, police presence on the road to somehow ensure that normalcy is maintained. It is not going to be an easy feat because there is no space for the expansion of Montego Bay,” said ACP Chambers.
“So it's not going to be an easy task to get it back where we want it, but the intention is to get the city as normal as possible, so that even tourists can find pleasure in traversing the city.”PX
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