VIDEO: Cabbies cry 'financial slavery' in protest against traffic laws
Everton Style, JATOO vice president
Taxi operators are describing proposed regulations in the new Road Traffic Act as "financial slavery", as they complain that they will be fattening government coffers while their families suffer with the new laws.
Cabbies in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region pulled their services Monday to protest against the Bill which is before Parliament and a number of other issues that they claim are threatening their livelihood.
"We are being taken for a ride, and therefore the operators consider it financial slavery," Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) Vice President, Everton Style told Loop News.
The protest action started early morning and escalated up until midday, as operators who had stopped working, and gathered at Mandela Park, in Half-Way Tree, hassled those who continued to work, forcing them to also withdraw their services.
The cars were parked along the corridors and side roads around Mandela Park, as the operators voiced their grouse to the many police officers, including Deputy Superintendent Errol Adams, the head of the Public Safety Division of the recently established Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Among the proposals in the new Road Traffic Act that peeve taxi operators is the plan to tag owners of public passenger vehicles with the offences committed by drivers.
According to the Bill that was tabled by Transport Minister Robert Montague, tickets and fines shall apply to the owner of the vehicle as if the owner was driving the vehicle when the breach was committed. However, the owners will not be hit with demerit points as a result of the breaches.
Taxi operators also demonstrated against what they claim as harassment by the police and Transport Authority workers.
Operators who drive seven seaters also complained to Loop News about not being able to carry what they consider to be "full loads", because they are being told that they must only carry five passengers.
They also voiced disgust at not having proper parking facilities and proposed fines for public passenger vehicle operators who are caught driving without a badge showing that they have gone through the requisite training.
Among the routes that were affected, with services to and from Half-Way Tree, were Papine, New Kingston, August Town, Mountain View, Duhaney Park, Three Miles and Waltham Park Road.