More Needs To Be Done To Stop Pi­rate Taxis

Fiji Sun - - Comment -

The is­sue of il­le­gal or pi­rate taxis has been with us for a long time. But it’s re­cent pro­lif­er­a­tion has shown that il­le­gal op­er­a­tors are pre­pared to defy the law to make some money. But this is black money be­cause it is ob­tained through il­le­gal means.

Il­le­gal op­er­a­tors do not pay tax for op­er­at­ing pi­rate taxis. This could amount to thou­sands of dol­lars in lost Gov­ern­ment rev­enue that should go to­wards in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments like build­ing and main­te­nance of roads.

It is also not known whether th­ese il­le­gal taxis have proper in­sur­ances to cover for in­juries, even death in the event of an ac­ci­dent. If they don’t then their pas­sen­gers do not have proper in­sur­ance cover.

De­spite all th­ese, peo­ple are drawn to­wards pi­rate taxis be­cause they pro­vide a ser­vice that is con­ve­nient and cheaper. In fact pi­rate taxis fill a vac­uum cre­ated by le­gal taxis which set con­di­tions be­fore a jour­ney. Peo­ple find those con­di­tions un­ac­cept­able and frus­trat­ing.

The con­di­tions in­clude the length of trips, type of roads or neigh­bour­hood. Some taxis will not run af­ter mid­night be­cause of the driv­ers’ fear of be­ing mugged. They will not take short trips also be­cause of the low financial re­turns. In do­ing so they are cre­at­ing an en­ron­vi­ron­ment for pi­rate taxis to en­ter the in­dus­try and thrive. Some il­le­gal op­er­a­tors are hir­ing some rental cars to run their busi­ness. Some have reg­u­lar jobs and op­er­ate rentals from Fri­day night to Sun­day. They are re­spond­ing to the big de­mand for taxi ser­vice. When the fares are cheaper and there are no time re­stric­tions and other con­di­tions, il­le­gal op­er­a­tors at­tract a lot of cus­tomers. Ob­vi­ously the taxi in­dus­try needs to ad­dress th­ese is­sues and im­prove in ar­eas that have been high­lighted. If they fail then they have only them­selves to blame and they can­not point a fin­ger at any­one else in­clud­ing the pi­rate taxis. Taxis must put their act to­gether if they want to keep the pi­rate ones off the road. Po­lice and Land Trans­port Author­ity must in­crease their sur­veil­lance on il­le­gal taxis and stop them. They have had some suc­cess but more needs to be done.

Photo: Li­tia Tiko­mailepanoni

An al­leged il­le­gal taxi op­er­a­tor at a taxi stand in Nadi.

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