FOR St Ann’s Taxi Drivers operating in the Ocho Rios Transportation Hub, their job has become increasingly difficult over the years since a number of their co-workers decided to no longer work in the hub , but rather to operate at the Rubis service station a short distance away.
A visit to the transport hub, which is expected to house both taxis and minibuses, revealed nothing but frustrated drivers waiting for the few passengers who chose to hire a driver at these lots.
A taxi driver told the Jamaica Observer that if the police ensured that all taxi drivers who load their vehicles outside the taxi park would be slapped with a ticket, then there would be no problem.
“No fact, we can’t make money at a di park. A di police cause we can’t make money in a di park [because] they let the other taxi out of a road job. So when the taxi dem is working on a road no one enters and if no body enters you can’t make money. The police must do the police work,” the man explained, adding that the government must also “clean up the park.”
“First of all you have to get out and find out who collected the money and scammed your money [so] you don’t take. If you don’t put your money in a di envelope, you have to get it back,” he continued, alluding to extortion.
He also said he had to leave the park by evening because it was becoming a ghost town.
“Every time it’s 4:30 p.m., everyone says he’s a highwayman, because there’s a ghost town. The man gets all shot so early, early because no cops come in, no one comes in.
Meanwhile, Michael Walters, 55, backed up his colleagues’ comments, saying: ‘We taxi drivers who go from St Ann’s Bay to Ocho Rios have a problem. We are in the park for an hour, two hours, yesterday a guy told me that he had been in the park for three hours, the passengers did not come in here. They (other taxi drivers) load at the gas station. Every time they load up at the gas station, they pay a hundred dollars.
Walters also said the police should enforce the law because the government is losing revenue.
“Let the taxi drivers bring people to the park because even the government is losing revenue. There are more people using outdoors than indoors…we have to pay $1200 for the week [to use the park]“, he told the Observer.
“Sometimes I have to go down empty… Honestly, I’m ashamed of myself. I don’t make any money. Yesterday I bought $3,000 worth of gas and by the time I get home I only have $3,000 for a big seven-seater like this,” he continued, noting that most of the time he works more than 12 hours.
Walters also added that he recalled a few years ago when he decided to drive his vehicle outside the transit center, he ended up getting a $2,500 ticket from the police.
“I go out there and the police come and ticket me and say it’s $20,000, and I tell him but you see, I’m using the park and I’m only here because I can’t have a passenger . And he still gave me a ticket for $2,500,” Walters said. “So for some of us if we go there we get a ticket while some don’t. We try to follow the law but it doesn’t work for some of us.
Attempts were made by our news team to obtain comment from Ocho Rios police without success.