ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Transport group outraged at 'hostage taxi' video
A screen grab from an involuntary, high-speed taxi ride recently, during which the driver was making a getaway from a pursuing bike police officer.
The Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) says it has intensified its search, along with the police, to locate the taxi driver who was seen essentially holding passengers hostage in his vehicle in his bid to escape a pursuing police officer in a high-speed chase in a section of the Corporate Area.
“We have stepped up our search to locate this person, as his actions have placed the industry in a bad light,” said Edgerton Newman, head of TODSS, which represents a significant number of register transport operators across the Corporate Area.
A just over two-minute-long video that was being circulated on social media recently, showed a female passenger screaming frantically and asking the driver to release her from the speeding vehicle, but her calls were ignored until the driver had escaped from the bike cop.
The video is again carried below.
At the end of the drama, another female passenger who was in the vehicle, and heard the fellow passenger's pleas, tried to calm her.
The police said they have seen the video and have called on passengers to be careful about their choices of public passenger vehicles.
Newman said amid the search, TODSS is also calling on the Government, through the Transport Authority, to immediately stop the issuance of public passenger vehicle (PPV) road licences and move towards the implementation of a National Public Transportation Driver Training Programme (PTDTP) to start reducing the indiscipline in the public transportation sector.
“The time has come for the Government to put structures in place to ensure that passengers travel with the highest level of comfort and safety, and not continued to be subjected to the level of indiscipline now plaguing the sector, where owners of PPVs are allowing anyone to operate their vehicles just because they have a PPV licence, but they have no training,” said Newman.
“We are recommending that effective immediately, anyone acquiring a road licence at the Transport Authority must source a driver from a pool of drivers at the authority, or the owner must first show that his or her driver and conductor have a certificate from a certified driver training institute that goes with an operating badge,” said Newman.
In addition, come the next licence renewal period (February 2020), all drivers (should be required) to submit to the authority a certificate showing that he or she has completed a 72-hour customer service training course with a certified institution, such as Heart,” Newman further recommended.
“Let’s get to work… on an agenda. Heart/NTA (Heart Trust/National Training Agency), TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company), JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company), Transport Association (TODSS), Transport Authority or a high school-designed programme. Such a programme can be rolled out in 90 days if we are serious about transforming the sector. Transport groups like ours are being blamed every day for the erosion of the sector, so now we are making the strongest of solution to address the problem and start training and development,” said Newman.